Anyone who has suffered from a toothache will understand the intensity of the pain involved. A mild toothache may simply be a bother and a source of near constant irritation, but ignore it for too long and you could have on your hands a severe toothache that could prevent you from eating, sleeping, talking and going about your normal routine. Toothaches can affect children and adults and can range from mild twinges to unbearable pain. They can appear suddenly or slowly develop over time.
Ideally, at the first sign of a toothache, you should visit a dentist and treat the problem. Unfortunately, for many people this is easier said than done. A fear of dentist's and dental treatments often keep people from tackling the issue at hand and a simple cavity can escalate into a nerve-throbbing root canal or worse.
Symptoms of Toothache
The symptoms of toothaches typically involve some kind of ache or pain in the jaws or gums, which may vary greatly, from dull and constant to sharp and sudden pain, sometimes in response to specific stimuli and in other cases being ever present. Common symptoms include:
- Sharp sudden pain
- Deep throbbing pain
- Pain that is localized around a particular tooth
- Pain that radiates to the jaw or ears
- Pain that radiates to the shoulders, head, or neck
- Increased sensitivity to heat or cold
- Toothache that worsens when chewing
- A tooth or gums that is tender to the touch
- Pain that is aggravated by movement or exercise
- Tooth pain that prevents you from sleeping
- Pain that reduces with painkillers or the use of a heating pad
- Toothache accompanied by fever, sweating, chest pain, nausea or sweating
- Bleeding gums
- Redness around the gum line
- Swelling of the gums or jaw
Pain that is felt in the jaws or gums may not always be indicative of a toothache however. Common ENT disorders like sinusitis or throat and ear infections can also cause tooth pain, a phenomenon referred to as radiating pain or referred pain. If the prospect of a dentist's appointment is distasteful make it a point to at least consult your general physician who will be able to identify the cause of the pain.
Make it a point to consult your dentist immediately if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Severe toothache with no relief from pain killers
- Toothache that lasts for more than a day or two
- If toothache symptoms are accompanied by fever, earaches or pain when opening the mouth
Causes of Toothache
Tooth decay is the most common cause of toothaches, but there are various possible causes and it's near impossible to make a self diagnosis. A visit to the dentist is absolutely essential so that the underlying cause can be identified and treated. Toothaches may be caused by a variety of problems such as:
- Dental cavities
- Exposed tooth root
- Cracked or broken tooth
- Injury or trauma
- Gum disease
- Tooth or gum infections
- Grinding teeth
- Dental abscesses
- Abnormal bite
- Tooth eruption
In other cases the causes may actually have little to do with your dental health. Heart disease like angina can also cause pain in the teeth and jaws. TMJ/TMD or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and sinus problems and ear infections can also cause discomforting symptoms that closely resemble a toothache. Tension in the facial muscles can also cause similar symptoms. In such cases your dentist will refer you to a physician.
Remedies for Toothache
If you have severe pain or if you have a toothache that lasts for more than two days, visit your dentist at the earliest. If your toothache is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, jaw pain or earache, your doctor may need to be involved with the diagnosis and treatment as well.
In order to determine the cause of the toothache, your dentist will examine your mouth and teeth closely. Dental x-rays can provide more information and indicate if the problem lies in the root or the gums. Possible dental treatments for a toothache relief include filling the cavity, root canal treatment, medications to treat any infection or the removal of the tooth
Home remedies and alternative treatments are not a viable alternative to conventional care when dealing with toothaches. In addition to the fact that it's hard to make a self diagnosis, neglecting or delaying appropriate treatment with stop gap measures or ineffective remedies can exacerbate the condition and make eventual treatment a lot more expensive. Natural treatments can help to provide some relief from the symptoms however when you do not have immediate access to a dentists or need to wait for an appointment. Some easy ways to relieve a severe toothache include:
- Over-the-counter painkillers are often the best temporary treatment for toothaches. There are risks involved however and if you suffer from any preexisting condition or are on any other medications make it a point to consult your doctor first.
- Garlic is one of the most popular and widely used of all remedies in the treatment of dental diseases. The traditional use of garlic has been bolstered by studies that reiterate the medicinal properties of garlic, mostly attributed to the compound 'allicin' present in the herb. Garlic is particularly useful in the treatment of dental caries and other oral infections.
- The antibacterial properties of onions have also been well established and some studies also indicate that this may help to fight off dental infections. However this type of natural remedy for toothaches can cause some amount of awkwardness because of the foul odor.
- The use of cloves is one of the age-old home remedies for tooth pain. The oil of cloves known as Eugenol is in fact used in many dental products and toothpastes. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties and potency as a natural painkiller, cloves can be used to treat toothaches. You can soak a cotton ball with a few drops of clove oil and place this on the affected tooth or inside the tooth cavity for instant pain relief. Alternatively, chew on a few whole cloves to release the oil within and get the same effect.
- An excellent way to reduce swelling and pain caused by a toothache is to rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm salt water. Swish around a blend of 8 ounces of warm water mixed with half a teaspoon of salt to decrease any inflammation of the gums.
Diet for Toothache
A healthy balanced diet plays an important role in your overall health. This includes your dental health as well. One way to prevent caries and tooth decay is to reduce or avoid the consumption of sweets and sugary foods. Instead of a diet high in junk foods and over processed meals, switch to fresh fruits and vegetables that supply your body with the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Raw vegetables and whole grains are especially beneficial for keeping teeth strong and healthy as well. Foods high in fiber work as natural mouth cleansers and can help restrict the buildup of plaque on the gums. Calcium is important to strengthen the teeth and gums. You can get your recommended dose of calcium by increasing your intake of dairy products and fresh produce or you can opt for calcium supplements instead. When it comes to preventing toothaches and dental problems, when one eats is as important as what one eats. Snacking on the sugary stuff just before you sleep can cause irreversible damage to your teeth. Frequent snacking also creates an environment for bacteria in the mouth to thrive. This can contribute greatly towards tooth decay and cavities and ultimately lead to toothaches or worse.
Suggestion for Toothache
- Good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent a toothache. The American Dental Association recommends you brush your teeth twice a day. Use the proper toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste for the best results. The technique of brushing is equally important hold your toothbrush at a slight angle and move back and forth over every tooth.
- Flossing after every meal helps prevent plaque and keeps your gums strong. In addition to brushing and flossing, use a mouthwash or mouth rinse to prevent the build up of plaque in between your teeth.
- To prevent dental problems schedule regular appointments with your dentist at least twice a year. In case you notice any warning signs or symptoms such as swollen or bleeding gums, loose teeth, bad breath or sensitivity to heat or cold contact your dentist as soon as possible.
- Professional clean ups at the dentist and regular visits are also necessary to maintain good dental health. If you are prone to dental problems such as caries or tooth decay, your dentist may recommend fluoride treatments or the use of sealants to prevent further damage.
- If you are pregnant and suffer from a toothache, most antibiotics and medications are off limits for you. Instead, home remedies and natural treatments are your best bet for pain relief, temporary as they may be. There are instances when certain dental treatments may also be deferred until after the baby is born. Keep this in mind and get a complete dental check up before you plan your pregnancy if possible.
- For children who complain of toothaches, home remedies provide some relief until an appointment with a dentist is possible. Remember it's never too early to start inculcating good oral hygiene habits and children should visit their dentists for regular check ups during the year as well.
- Fani MM, Kohanteb J, Dayaghi M. Inhibitory activity of garlic (Allium sativum) extract on multidrug-resistant Streptococcus mutans. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent. 2007 Oct-Dec;25(4):164-8. PubMed PMID: 18007101.
- Bachrach G, Jamil A, Naor R, Tal G, Ludmer Z, Steinberg D. Garlic allicin as a potential agent for controlling oral pathogens. J Med Food. 2011 Nov;14(11):1338-43. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0165. Epub 2011 May 6. PubMed PMID: 21548800.
- Gupta C, Kumari A, Garg AP, Catanzaro R, Marotta F. Comparative study of cinnamon oil and clove oil on some oral microbiota. Acta Biomed. 2011 Dec;82(3):197-9. PubMed PMID: 22783715.
Toothache Treatments - more information
Toothache - Frequently asked questions
38 Toothache remedies suggested by our users
suggested by Dawn on Thursday, May 1, 2008
suggested by Charlie on Monday, March 31, 2008
periodontal disease and/or infected tooth
suggested by sue on Wednesday, March 12, 2008
suggested by [unspecified] on Sunday, February 17, 2008
Toothache Treatments. More...