Toothache pain, whether it’s from around or within a tooth, can be uncomfortable to downright unbearable. Your teeth have an inner pulp that is a soft material that is filled with tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. These nerves are some of the most sensitive in your body. So when they become irritated, inflamed, or infected, it can cause significant pain.
Some minor toothaches can be easily treated at home and will eventually go away on their own. Other toothaches are caused by more deeply rooted dental and mouth problems and would need to be treated at a dentist’s office.
If you are wondering what causes a toothache, here in this article we’ve put together some of the top reasons, as well as what you can do to remedy the situation.
5 of the Most Common Reasons for a Toothache
There are a variety of things that can cause this problem. Some of the most common causes of a toothache include:
The acid byproduct that comes from carbohydrates and sugar in certain foods and drinks weakens tooth enamel and helps promote demineralization of teeth. Cavities form when bacteria and acid wears down a spot of your tooth. Without treatment, a cavity can grow closer to the nerve underneath the tooth’s enamel and cause a toothache. If the pain from a cavity is ignored, it can quickly lead to the need for a root canal.
If tooth decay is ignored for far too long, it can lead to a bacterial infection inside the center of the tooth, causing an abscessed tooth and a much more severe problem. So, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible when a toothache starts.
Overly rough tooth brushing, misaligned teeth, and even genetics cause receding gums. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize they have receding gums until they are in pain. Gum recession leaves the roots of the teeth exposed and pain will be felt when hot or cold substances are consumed. Sometimes, in serious cases, even air can cause significant pain.
Untreated receding gums can also lead to gingivitis, which can then lead to tooth loss. Treatment for minor gum recession usually involves a deep cleaning of the teeth and changes to your dental hygiene routine, while treatment in severe cases could mean a gum graft.
Wisdom Teeth Erupting
When wisdom teeth are coming in, there will be some pain no matter if they will need to be removed or not. Inflammation or infection can significantly increase the pain. If there is not enough space in your mouth for your wisdom teeth to fully come in (erupt) or they are coming in at an angle below the surface of your gum, they are what is referred to as “impacted”. In most cases, impacted wisdom teeth will need to be removed to alleviate the current pain and eliminate any future discomfort.
Teeth grinding or clenching (also known as bruxism) usually at night while you are sleeping. Bruxism is caused by stress, anxiety, dental misalignment, or jaw misalignment. The most common indicators that this is happening is if you wake up with soreness in your jaw every morning, a dull headache, or tooth pain. When left untreated, bruxism can cause cracked or broken teeth, infection, or even TMJ. Contact your dentist if you think you are suffering from bruxism and they can diagnose the cause and help relieve your symptoms, often by fitting you with a special mouthguard to wear at night.
Even though tooth enamel is strong, accidents happen. If you have a broken or chipped tooth and are experiencing tooth pain, you need to have your damaged tooth examined by a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further, more serious issues. Your dentist can relieve the pain and determine the best course of action to restore the tooth’s shape. In these situations, treatments like a dental crown or cosmetic bonding are often used.
How to Treat a Toothache at Home (Until Your Dentist Appointment)
If you are wondering how to stop a painful toothache, the good news is that there are some things you can do at home to help temporarily relieve the pain. If it is a minor issue, these things below can significantly help reduce inflammation and pain and may eliminate the problem completely in a few days. This is especially true for situations where the pain is coming from around the tooth and not inside the tooth.
For more serious issues, these things below will help make the pain much more bearable until you go in to see your dentist.
- Cold compress: Hold ice wrapped in a towel against your face over the painful area for 20 minutes periods to relieve swelling and pain. Repeat this every few hours as needed.
- Warm saltwater rinse: Saltwater acts as a disinfectant and helps reduce inflammation. It can also loosen debris that may be stuck between your teeth. Mix a ½ teaspoon of salt into an 8oz glass of warm water, rinse your mouth thoroughly, and spit the water out.
- Hydrogen peroxide and water rinse: Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution) is another item that can significantly help reduce pain and inflammation. Mix equal parts water with the hydrogen peroxide to dilute it and then rinse your mouth thoroughly. Don’t swallow the solution.
- Over-the-counter pain medication: Over-the-counter pain medications will also reduce pain and inflammation. One option are NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®), aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve®). If you can’t take NSAIDs, take acetaminophen (Tylenol®). For children under the age of 16 use Tylenol instead instead of aspirin.
Natural and/or Herbal Remedies
There are also some natural or herbal treatments that are very effective:
- Clove oil: This natural antiseptic can numb pain and reduce inflammation. Use a cotton ball to dab a small amount of clove oil on the painful area. Or you can add one drop of clove oil to a small glass of water and thoroughly rinse your mouth out with it.
- Peppermint tea: You can use a warm peppermint tea bag to apply peppermint’s soothing properties to the painful area. Hold the tea bag directly against the tooth and gum.
- Vanilla extract: Vanilla extract contains a small amount of alcohol that helps to numb pain temporarily and its antioxidants help promote healing. Use either a cotton ball or your fingertips to apply the extract directly to the gum and tooth a few times a day.
- Crushed garlic: Garlic, which contains the antimicrobial Allicin, can kill bacteria and help relieve pain. Simply apply the paste from a crushed garlic clove to the affected area.
When to See Your Dentist For a Toothache & What Will Happen
If the issue causing your toothache is progressing and it is clear that despite your at-home efforts the pain is not going away, it is time to call your dentist and schedule an appointment. It is also important to contact your dentist right away if you are experiencing severe pain, a fever along with your toothache, or swelling in the face or mouth.
When you go into your dentist’s office for a toothache, the dental team will review your medical history and you’ll be things like:
- When did the pain start?
- Where exactly is the pain located?
- How severe is the pain?
- What gives you relief and what makes the pain worse?
They will also examine your teeth, gums, tongue, jaw, and throat. More than likely X-rays of your mouth will also be taken to help pinpoint the cause of your toothache.
How your dentist treats and relieves your toothache will depend on exactly what is causing your toothache. Some treatment options include:
- Prescription antibiotics
- Deep cleaning of your teeth followed by periodontal therapy
- A cavity filling
- A root canal
- Tooth extraction
Your dentist will properly diagnose what is causing the toothache and explain the most appropriate treatment plan.
Don’t Delay Treatment If You Have a Toothache!
As you can see, there are some effective at-home remedies that can help to provide at least temporary relief. It is very important that you never ignore a toothache and take action as soon as you start to experience pain. If it is caused by an infection, it’s imperative to prevent it from spreading to other parts of your skull, face, or even your bloodstream, quickly causing a more serious problem.
The pain from a toothache will not be permanent as long as it is treated. If you are experiencing a toothache, contact us here at Radomile Family Dental Care. Our expert team will diagnose the issue and take the appropriate action to relieve your pain and prevent any further infection.
Schedule your appointment with us today!