Toothaches are the most prevalent dental problem among U.S. adults experiencing orofacial pain and are characterized by pain in or near your tooth. Your tooth pain may be acute and throbbing or dull and inconsistent throughout the day or night. Perhaps you also feel tooth sensitivity while eating or brushing your teeth.
Sometimes it’s difficult knowing if your pain is in your upper or lower jaw. For example, lower tooth pain can mimic an earache, and you can mistake upper tooth pain for sinus discomfort.
While self-care, such as nonprescription medications, can help alleviate your pain temporarily, a visit to your dentist is your better option to find permanent relief. Receiving the correct treatment at the right time can help you feel better quickly and be on the road to a full recovery.
How Do You Get a Toothache?
Toothaches can stem from any number of circumstances: tooth decay, infections, fractured teeth, damaged fillings, and infected gums. Even teeth grinding, tooth eruptions, and removing wisdom teeth can sometimes lead to toothaches.
In some cases, toothaches may stem from more serious complications elsewhere in the body. For example, it’s not outrageous to mistake a heart attack for a toothache, depending on the subtly of heart attack symptoms.
Toothache Risk Factors
You risk experiencing a toothache if you engage in any of the following:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Diets high in sugar
- Untreated dry mouth
- Tobacco use
Other risk factors leading to toothaches may be beyond your control. For instance, if you have a weakened immune system (from disease or medications), you may have trouble fighting off bacteria. Additionally, head or jaw trauma can lead to tooth fractures, making it easy for bacteria to enter and cause a toothache.
How Do You Treat Toothaches?
Home remedies can be useful to relieve pain temporarily. Some remedies include:
- Rinsing with warm salt water or hydrogen peroxide
- Applying a cold compress
- Using oils or extracts as antiseptics or analgesics
You can also use the aforementioned medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, to temporarily reduce pain and swelling.
Although these remedies can be helpful for a short period, they cannot replace assessment and treatment by a professional.
Visit Your Dentist
During a dental visit, you’ll provide your medical history and answer questions about the pain location, start date, and severity. Then, if deemed necessary, your dentist will take an X-ray of the aching tooth.
After your dentist identifies your toothache’s origin, they’ll recommend treatment. They may perform a root canal, where a filling replaces the infected pulp of your tooth or remove the aching tooth, if necessary. In other situations, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to treat infections.
Note that if your dentist is unsure of your toothache’s underlying cause, or if they suspect your pain stems from something beyond their scope of practice, they should refer you to a specialist for further evaluation.
How Do You Prevent Toothaches?
Maintaining healthy dental hygiene habits is paramount to preventing toothaches. Brushing and flossing twice a day goes a long way in preventing tooth decay, as does rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash to prevent gum disease.
Twice-yearly professional cleaning can ensure that your dental will catch issues early, making problems easily treatable.
Consider lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking and improving on a healthy diet, decrease your chances of having a toothache or other orofacial pain.
Do You Have To Live With a Toothache Forever?
In short — No. Though toothaches have many causes, most are treatable oral health issues, like cavities and infections.
Your dentist can assess, diagnose, and provide the proper treatment or referral if you make your appointment at the right time. Proper dental hygiene and professional dental cleanings are the most important preventative measures for toothaches. Call and schedule a visit with Hansen Orthodontics today for your Las Vegas orthodontist needs.