Toothache is exactly how it sounds – a sudden sensation of pain and/or sensitivity which could be acute and throbbing or dull and intermittent or perhaps even constant –  originating from the affected tooth and gum area within the mouth.

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What is toothache?

Toothache can appear to worsen when consuming food and drink – especially if these items are presented at extremely hot or cold temperatures.

Toothache can disrupt sleep and can make brushing your teeth, speaking naturally, and biting into and chewing your food extremely uncomfortable to do on a daily basis.

Toothache does not usually go away on its own. The pain which results can intensity from mild discomfort to severe distress, if left untreated.

Symptoms of toothache

The pain felt is not the only indication that something is wrong. The gums, cheek, and jaw may appear swollen and painful on the side of the toothache. The gums may become sore, increase in redness and start to bleed easily and you may experience an intense headache and/or fever. A pus discharge could start to occur. Bad breath can begin alongside an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Earache can result, too.

What causes toothache?

  • Toothache is commonly caused by the onset of tooth decay and/or periodontitis (gum disease)
  • The epicentre of toothache is usually to be found at the nerve in the tooth root which has become irritated or infected with the pain radiating out to the affected tooth and gum area
  • Other common causes of toothache include injury to the tooth, the development of a dental abscess, a cracked or chipped tooth, a significant piece of food debris stuck to your gumline and a loose or broken tooth filling
  • You may also experience toothache when new teeth erupt – such as wisdom teeth or you when had a tooth extraction
  • Cracks in your teeth, leading to toothache, can also occur as a result of long-term teeth grinding (bruxism), too
  • Regularly brushing your teeth and/or gums too hard or the onset of receding gums can also cause toothache to start

How to treat toothache

  • The first thing to do is to make an appointment with your dentist so they can professionally identify and treat the exact cause of your toothache
  • In the meantime, cleanliness and pain relief will be your two key self-care priorities
  • Continue with your normal oral hygiene routine at home using extra care
  • Try rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution and applying a cold compress to ease the swelling and make yourself more comfortable. Consider taking over-the-counter pain medication to reduce inflammation and offer yourself some immediate pain relief
  • Once at the clinic, your dentist will begin their evaluation of your toothache with an oral examination and X-rays. You may have a tooth cavity, the onset or worsening of periodontitis, an infection that can be treated with antibiotics or you may even require root canal treatment. Don’t delay – seek toothache treatment today.

Wimpole St Dental Clinic has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

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