Within all teeth is a central part known as the pulp, and when that area becomes inflamed, tooth pain is a result. Infection, trauma, and decay can cause the pulp to be inflamed, and the pain can be severe. Because there are many nerves associated with the teeth and jaw, tooth pain can radiate to affect the ear, jaw, and face, and sometimes it can be difficult for you to determine just what tooth is in pain. On the other hand, injury to the temporomandibular joint (the joint in the jaw) or sinus problems may feel like tooth pain. Whatever the case, if you are experiencing what you think is tooth pain, the best first step is to get to the dentist’s office for an evaluation.
Tooth pain treatment
When you first experience tooth pain, you should call the dentist. In the meanwhile, you can usually treat tooth pain at home with over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If sensitivity is a problem, avoiding hot, cold, or sweet foods may help with pain control, and some drugstores carry emergency treatments for lost fillings or tooth and gum pain. These can all be effective in managing pain until your dentist can see you.
How is tooth pain diagnosed?
Decay and infection are usually visible on an x-ray, so your dentist will likely take an x-ray of the affected area as a first attempt at diagnosis. If you have a cavity or broken tooth, you may be well aware of the problem and can pinpoint where the pain is coming from. There may be another issue, so your dentist may refer you to a doctor.
How does a dentist treat tooth pain?
Usually, tooth pain treatment includes pain medication and antibiotics. Your dentist may remove decay and fill a cavity or even extract a tooth or refer you to an endodotist for a root canal if the decay is significant. In extreme cases, you may need an extraction, which can be performed by the dentist or an oral surgeon, depending on the complexity of the extraction. If an infection is present, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, and they will work quickly to alleviate any infection-induced tooth pain.
Your dentist’s immediate goal will be to reduce your pain, and once that happens and a thorough diagnosis of the cause of the pain has been pinpointed, any necessary further reconstructive measures can be performed.
How to prevent tooth pain
The best way to prevent tooth pain is to receive regular dental care. Sensitive teeth, decay, gum disease, and poor oral hygiene can all contribute to tooth pain. Regular brushing and flossing, eating a balanced diet, and wearing a mouth guard during contact sports are all ways to avoid damage that can cause tooth pain.