Tooth pain is no walk in the park. Whether it’s persistent or comes and goes at times, a toothache is still a toothache — and it requires immediate attention. Naturally, the first thing on your mind when you experience a toothache is wondering how you can make it go away. While some toothaches can easily be soothed by simple remedies, others could be the sign of a serious oral condition.
Getting immediate relief will depend on the accompanying signs and severity of your tooth pain. To make sure you receive the best dental treatment as soon as possible, we’ve put together a list of the most common toothache causes, information on first-aid and safe home remedies for toothaches, and details on when you should see a dentist.
The Most Common Toothache Causes
Because the teeth are very sensitive, there are many common causes of toothaches. While only your dentist can officially diagnose what’s causing your toothache, knowing the signs and symptoms of the most basic causes can help you determine what immediate toothache relief steps you should take.
Some of the most common toothache causes include:
- Tooth decay — When the hard outer layer of your teeth known as enamel begins to break down due to bacteria, the tooth itself becomes more sensitized. This can lead to cavities and holes that can expose or irritate the inner nerves and blood vessels of your tooth. Thus, a toothache will begin mildly, becoming more sensitive to temperatures and sweets over time. Untreated tooth decay can lead to a severe toothache from exposed nerve endings.
- Gum disease — Gum disease comes in different stages of severity. Similar to tooth decay, gums that wear down due to bacteria and plaque leave the supporting bone exposed. This type of toothache generally accompanies signs such as a receding gum line, swollen or inflamed gums, bleeding or loose teeth.
- Trauma — Dental trauma is a broad term for any incidents which result in sudden lost, broken or cracked teeth. You may experience facial swelling around the site or sharp tooth pain. These injuries can sometimes qualify as a dental emergency, so it’s important to contact your dentist right away (more on that later, too).
- Abscesses — A tooth abscess is the sign of an infection inside or near the tooth. Abscesses can be caused by both trauma and oral decay. They are sacs filled with bacteria and pus, and they generally sit on the roots inside your tooth. This can cause serious pain. Oral abscesses can only be treated by a dentist.
As we covered in our previous blog post “What Your Toothache Could Mean,” other causes of toothache can include losing a filling or an impacted tooth (generally wisdom teeth). A toothache could also be a sign of many other serious health conditions, so it’s important to talk with both your dentist and your doctor if you are experiencing more symptoms than just tooth pain.
First-Aid and Safe Home Remedies for Toothaches
So, what should you do as soon as you notice your toothache? Fortunately, there are a number of easy steps you can take on your own as toothache remedies or to at least manage the pain or discomfort until you can see your dentist.
First, try rinsing your mouth with warm water to remove any debris and to gently soothe your tooth. You may additionally want to try rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater to ease the tooth pain even more. If you suspect food or plaque may be contributing to your toothache, try gently flossing between your teeth. Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can help manage the tooth pain, however, aspirin or other painkillers should never be directly applied to your gums, as it could burn your gum issues. For toothaches due to trauma, use a cold compress on the outside of your cheek to calm or prevent swelling.
Never use an OTC antiseptic product with benzocaine before first talking with your dentist and/or doctor. While rare, benzocaine has been linked to a serious and sometimes deadly condition known as methemoglobinemia, which causes a dangerous decrease in how much oxygen your blood can carry. Aside from talking to your dentist or doctor first, be sure to not use any products with benzocaine in children younger than two years old, never use more than the recommended amount of a product with benzocaine, and always store such products securely and out of reach from children.
While home remedies can help ease your tooth pain, only seeing a dentist for treatment can help make your toothache go away for good.
When to See a Dentist
No matter the severity of your tooth pain, you should always contact your dentist when you experience a toothache. Discussing the symptoms and other accompanying signs will help your dentist determine the urgency of your toothache. Signs of a dental emergency accompanying a toothache include persistent pain for more than 24-28 hours, a fever, difficulting breathing or swallowing, or signs of infection (swelling, pain when biting, inflamed gums or foul-tasting discharge from the area of the toothache). Other signs of a dental emergency can be found in our blog post here, while information on how to prepare for a dental emergency can be found here.
Your dentist may recommend a variety of different treatment options depending on the cause of your toothache. Treatment can range from a simple filling to seeing a specialist for root canal treatment or gum disease treatment.
Find Toothache Relief in Bucktown, Chicago
Do you need a dentist near Bucktown or the neighborhoods of Logan Square, Wicker Park or Humboldt Park in Chicago? NK Family Dental is here for you to provide toothache relief! From general dentistry services provided by Dr. Khan, to our root canal specialist Dr. Sabek, to our periodontist and dental implant specialist Dr. Danesh, your oral needs will be in the most trained and compassionate care.