Dental Emergencies: What to Do If You Have A Toothache
Unfortunately, many people will experience the discomfort of a toothache at some point in their lifetime. Sometimes the soreness can be caused because of a cavity in the tooth but there can also be other causes for tooth pain. Toothache can range from mild to severe, depending on the cause of the problem.
What Are The Possible Causes Of A Toothache?
Sharp pains that occur during eating or drinking could be occurring as a result of a cavity. This kind of pain may also be present because of tooth sensitivity either from receding gums or the thinning of the tooth enamel at the neck of the tooth. If you are experiencing pain of this kind, make an appointment with your dentist straight away. In the meantime, it is best to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
If the pain in the tooth is sharp or stabbing when you bite down on food, you may have a cavity or cracked tooth or filling. These teeth might only experience pain on biting, or you might find they react to hot or cold foods or are constantly uncomfortable. In any case, making an appointment with your dentist for prompt attention is the wisest course of action.
A constant, throbbing pain could potentially be caused by an abscess on the tooth. An abscess occurs when a tooth becomes infected by bacteria, usually as the result of a deep or long-standing cavity. Abscesses on teeth sometimes cause the adjacent cheek or lip to swell. An abscess needs urgent attention, not only because they are extremely painful, but because infection can spread into the bloodstream or to other parts of the body. You can read more about abscesses here.
There are many other causes of tooth, jaw and facial pain. These include:
- An injury to the teeth or jaws, such as a blow during sports
- Tooth grinding or clenching
- Arthritis of the jaw
- Impacted third molars (wisdom teeth) or other impacted teeth that have not been removed
- Sinus infections
- Cancer of the jaw
If you or anyone in your family is experiencing any kind of tooth or facial pain it is imperative that a dentist be seen as soon as possible. If there is any kind of infection, it needs to be treated immediately.
It is impossible to make a diagnosis over the phone: diagnosis requires a detailed history of the problem, examination of the involved tooth, most likely an x-ray and perhaps other diagnostic tests. Toothaches can sometimes be remedied by fillings or simple topical treatments: other teeth may require more extensive work because often a toothache means that the tooth’s nerve is inflamed, infected or necrotic (dead). Sometimes a tooth experiencing pain needs a crown, root canal therapy or to be extracted and replaced.
If You Have A Toothache:
Here are some helpful tips that may provide temporary relief for toothache while waiting to see the dentist:
- Rinse the mouth with warm, salty water (1 tsp of salt dissolved in a glass of water) and use dental floss to remove debris from around the painful tooth.
- Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be given. However, it is important to remember to use analgesics wisely. Don’t suck on aspirin, don’t give aspirin to young children, and don’t use other people’s prescription painkillers. Only use the dosage and frequency recommended on the packet. If pain is severe and you can’t get to a dentist, speak with your GP or pharmacist about appropriate pain relief.
- If there is swelling, a cold compress placed on the outside of the cheek may minimise this.
Corinna Dental Group will always give priority appointments to patients in pain. Please go to our page on Emergency Appointments to learn more.
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