Ouch! Why Does My Tooth Hurt?

Woman holding pill and glass of waterIf you’ve ever had a toothache, you know that the pain can be intense and distracting. But what causes toothaches? What can you do to treat a toothache, and how can you reduce the likelihood of having one? Don’t worry, you’re in the right place! Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about toothaches, from Cumming dentist Dr. Jordan

What is a toothache?

 There are several common symptoms associated with toothaches, including: 

  • Dull, throbbing pain
  • Sharp, severe pain
  • Pain that radiates to the jaw, cheek, or ear
  • Pain with pressure (for instance, if you bite down on something, or tap the tooth)
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Inflamed or swollen gum around a tooth
  • Discharge around a tooth

What causes a toothache? 

Toothaches can result from many different causes, and some of them might surprise you. For instance, sometimes an ear infection will hurt so badly that the pain radiates all the way to the jaw, being mistaken for a toothache as a result. Other causes of toothache include cavities/tooth decay, a fractured tooth, gum disease, infection, injury, or abscess. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain, sinus pain, and even some heart conditions can cause pain that may be mistaken for a toothache. 

The ache of a toothache comes from irritation to the nerve in the root of the tooth. So, what can you do about it? 

How should you treat a toothache?

 The way you should treat your toothache will depend on the cause and the severity. You should call your family dentist or doctor to discuss your situation and get a recommendation on treatment. However, if you’re looking for temporary relief, try these ways to relieve tooth pain

  • Apply a cold compress. Use an ice pack placed on your cheek to cool the area for about 10 minutes. Be sure to take a 10 minute break between icings. 
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medication. Adults should generally use ibuprofen, while acetaminophen is typically recommended for kids. Of course, always consult your doctor, dentist, or pharmacist if you have questions. 
  • Swish warm salt water around your mouth. A salt water rinse can sooth tooth pain, and the salt may reduce inflammation.
  • Use an over-the-counter numbing gel. For short-term pain relief of a toothache, you can use one of the over the counter oral anesthetic products containing benzocaine. If your tooth pain is severe, the numbing may help you manage your pain until you can get in to see the dentist. 

How can you avoid getting a toothache?

The best way to avoid toothaches is to take good care of your dental health. That means brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once a day, and visiting the dentist office for a teeth cleaning twice a year. There are also things we can do to help you avoid tooth decay, like administering fluoride treatment or applying sealants to teeth.

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