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Toothache Symptoms and Treatment

February 11, 2013 | News | The Office of The Palisades Dentists

Toothaches can cause pain that is nearly unbearable.  There are many causes for toothache, among them cavities, infection, and trauma to the tooth.  Whatever the cause, toothaches occur when the pulp, or central part of the tooth where the nerves are, becomes inflamed.  Toothaches are generally simple to diagnose and treat, and there are many things patients can do to prevent them.

Toothache Symptoms

Toothache pain can be severe, and it can radiate to the jaw, ear, or cheek.  Toothache pain can occur with chewing, or from exposure to hot or cold foods, or sometimes with no apparent provocation.  Sometimes toothaches are accompanied by bleeding gums.  As soon as you know you have a toothache (and you will know), schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Meanwhile, over the counter pain medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve the pain, as can over the counter treatments such as numbing agents or treatments that contain clove oil.

Toothache Diagnosis

Sometimes it can be hard for the patient to determine which tooth hurts, but the dentist will perform an examination and x-ray to determine where the problem is.  Sometimes sinus pain or other pains in the head or neck can feel like tooth pain, so if the dentist cannot isolate a problem with the teeth or jaw, then you may need to be seen by a doctor.

Toothache Treatment

The first order of importance for the patient is to relieve the pain, and antibiotics can work quickly to eliminate any infection that is causing a toothache. Once the dentist has a clear idea of the cause of the pain, he or she can take further steps to treat the toothache.  The dentist may remove decay and fill a cavity or, in cases of severe decay, extract a problem tooth.  In some cases, the patient may require a root canal procedure followed by a crown.

In order to fully benefit from the treatment, you should be sure to follow the dentist’s instructions to the letter by taking all of the antibiotic prescribed and following up as directed.

Preventing Toothaches

The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is certainly applicable to toothache pain.  Eating a balanced diet, brushing and flossing as directed by the dentist, and using a fluoride toothpaste on a soft brush can all help to prevent tooth decay that can lead to toothaches.  Regular dental visits are essential to good oral hygiene.

Injuries can also lead to toothache, so be sure to wear appropriate mouth guards during contact sports and to avoid using teeth to open caps or chew on hard surfaces (pens and pencils, for instance). Toothache pain can be excruciating, so it is best to prevent it if at all possible.