Toothache or odontalgia is pain around the teeth or jaw region which is mainly caused by a dental condition. It is necessary to seek medical advice to properly diagnose the cause of the toothache and to identify the appropriate treatment. An oral examination which includes an X-ray is helpful in determining the source of pain. Dental pain can be worsened by exposing the teeth to extremely hot and cold temperatures. Severity of the pain ranges from mild to chronic and excruciating pain in which the latter is considered as a dental emergency when reported.
Common Causes of Tooth Pain
In most cases, toothaches are caused by dental caries (cavities) or tooth decay, exposed roots, gum diseases, cracked teeth and periodontitis or the inflammation of periodontium which are the tissues that support and surround the teeth. Some cases of tooth pain are a result of impacted growth of the wisdom teeth. Toothache is considered normal after a dental treatment such as dental surgery, tooth extraction or a root canal. Others may also associate toothache with the pain radiating from the jaw or neck area, however, it may be a symptom of an underlying condition that may have affected the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or the jaw joint, ears or the heart.
Toothache and Tooth Pain Relief
Before resorting to self-medicating, one should always seek a doctor or a dentist’s advice for the following concerns:
- Pain is not relieved after taking over-the-counter medications.
- Swallowed tooth.
- Tooth pain that is associated with fever.
- Injury resulting in broken teeth.
- Severe pain experienced after tooth extraction or root canal. This means that the tooth socket has been exposed to air and must be immediately attended to by a dentist.
- Pain that is associated by the swelling of the face or gums.
There are many remedies that provide tooth pain relief which may come in handy especially when toothache attacks occur in the middle of the night and calling a dentist does not seem feasible. Over-the-counter medication is available to manage the pain caused by dental problems. It is important to note, however, that the effect of a medication depends on the severity of the pain and of the medical history of the person affected.
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are just a few of the most popular over-the-counter medications available to help achieve tooth pain relief. Ibuprofen, which is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug helps reduce inflammation caused by toothaches. Advil, Motrin and Medipren are a few brands of ibuprofen available in the market. On the other hand, brands that include acetaminophen such as Tylenol, Panadol and Paracetamol are commonly used by people who are unable to take Ibuprofen including those who just underwent a surgery or pregnant women.
For instant tooth pain relief, some people also use gels that contain benzocaine, an anesthetic ingredient used as a topical pain reliever. These gels are applied to the affected area and provide temporary relief to the patient. Orajel, a brand of dental gel, carries a variety of teeth gel solutions that cater to adults, kids and infants. When infants experience teething pains, pediatricians normally opt to use homeopathic gel solutions as they are easier to administer.
During the onset of toothache, a visit to the dentist should always come first. However, these medications may be used to temporarily provide relief. Note that all medications contain active ingredients that may cause fatal side effects when ingested or absorbed through the skin or into the blood and should not be used long term without a proper diagnosis of the dentist and the consent of a physician.
Dental pain, especially one that is caused by infection, is largely preventable. The following are a few pointers to help prevent tooth decay.
- Establish a good routine after eating to clean the teeth. Use toothpaste with fluoride and brush after every after meal. Floss regularly.
- Protect your teeth by using dental products that are approved by the American Dental Association. Do not compromise your health by buying cheap products that may cause damage to your teeth in the future.
- If you are experiencing bleeding gums, do not brush your teeth too hard. Use rinses and dental products that have zinc citrate or zinc lactate which are the active ingredients needed to help prevent bacteria build up that may result to gingivitis.
- Regularly visit a dentist.
Spending extra time in observing proper oral hygiene is necessary to prevent toothache caused by infections. Treatment in the long run for gingivitis or periodontitis may be more expensive than investing in dental products that will aid in the prevention of plaque and bacteria build up. Observing proper oral hygiene is an imperative step in keeping ourselves healthy.