Toothache (dental pain, odontalgia, dentalgia, odontodynia, or odontogenic pain) is pain that occurs when the extremely sensitive central portion of the tooth, called the pulp, becomes inflamed (pulpitis). Pulpitis is usually in response to tooth decay, but there are many possible causes, including dental trauma and dental procedures. Pulpitis is classified as reversible, when the pain is mild to moderate and lasts for a short time after a stimulus (e.g. thermal, sweet); or irreversible where the pain is severe, spontaneous, and last a long time after a stimulus.
Some Toothache Causes
Tooth decay is when acids in your mouth dissolve the outer layers of your teeth. You may also have heard it called dental decay or dental caries. Over time, symptoms of tooth decay can include:
- pain when eating or drinking
- visible discolored spots on your teeth
If left untreated, a build up of plaque could lead to complications of tooth decay such as gum disease (gingivitis) or a dental abscess. Regular dental checks can help your dentist spot signs of tooth decay early and identify any cavities (holes or damage in the teeth). Tooth decay is much easier to treat successfully in its early stages.
Untreated periodontal disease can eventually lead to tooth loss and other health problems. There are two types of gum disease:
- Gingivitis, begins with bacterial growth in your mouth and may end -- if not properly treated -- with tooth loss due to destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
- Periodontitis - untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected.
Tooth grinding (bruxism) can wear down or chip your teeth and put excess force on the tissues supporting them causing pain not only in the teeth but also in the jaw joints and muscles.
Chances are that you may have misaligned or impacted wisdom teeth i.e. they fail to erupt partially/completely through the gum line. When a wisdom tooth erupts it may cause pain if there is not enough space for it to erupt. It may also put pressure on the adjacent tooth and cause a dull ache.
Correcting the alignment of the teeth with braces could often cause toothache for brief periods of time when the braces are adjusted or tightened.
How To Cure Toothache
For immediate relief take a pain killer. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen provide quick, effective relief for most minor toothaches. NOTE: Use only the recommended dosage printed on the package, or the dosage recommended by your doctor.
Fill a food storage bag with ice, cover it with a thin cloth or paper towel, and apply it directly to the tooth or the cheek area just outside the tooth. The cold temperature will help ease the pain. Do not apply the ice directly to the tooth. This will increase the pain, especially since teeth inflamed by toothaches are often quite sensitive to hot or cold temperatures.
Sometimes toothaches are caused by small pieces of food that have gotten lodged in the tooth and are exacerbating the pain of cavities or gingivitis. When this is the case, thoroughly cleaning your mouth can go a long way toward eliminating the pain and making the problem go away.
Rinse your mouth with some of these homemade remedies:
- Salt Water: Mix a heaping tablespoon full of salt in a small glass of warm water; swirl around inside your mouth for as long as you can, spit out. Repeat as needed.
- Hydrogen Peroxide: Swoosh a bit of hydrogen peroxide. If the taste is too horrid for you, try diluting with a bit of water.
- Ginger Root: Take a fresh piece of ginger and chew it a bit.
- Peppermint Leaves: Chew on fresh peppermint leaves. You can also dried leaves, just hold them in place.
- Tea: Make a fresh cup of tea then take the used tea bag (still warm) and stick it in your mouth. Careful not to tear the bag. The tannins that are naturally in tea leaves can help numb things.
If you have a toothache, it is best to seek immediate advice from a dentist before the problem becomes worse.