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25th September 2014

Toothache

Toothache is pain that originates from around the teeth or the surrounding jaws. It is an unpleasant experience that can vary in severity from a minimal sensitivity to severe pain affecting eating and sleeping. It is important to note that referred pain (pain that feels like it is in one location but actually comes from elsewhere) also effects the jaw and teeth similar to any other part of the body.

What is the cause of a toothache?

Toothache is commonly caused by an infected tooth, where bacteria have entered the heart of the tooth and have caused an infection. Initially this presents as a sensitive tooth to hot and cold foods and gets progressively worse. Early intervention can save the nerve, and save you costs. As the infection develops it produces a deep throbbing pain which can subsequently bring on swelling and affect your sleep.

What can I do if I have toothache?

For adults, a combination of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen provides the best relief, please ensure you can take these tablets (please speak to a doctor or pharmacist for further advice). Aspirin is usually ineffective and should not be given to children. Antibiotics are only really effective when there is severe long standing infection, and will not help you with acute pain. A Dentist is your best source of pain relief who can remove the nerve and source of pain in minutes under local anaesthetic. This process is the first stage of root canal treatment and removes the toothache completely.


What else can cause toothache?

Cracked teeth, loose or leaking fillings, trauma or teeth with gum problems can also result in toothache, where bacteria again enter the tooth causing pain and eventually an abscess. Again root canal treatment or tooth removal are the only long term viable options.

Erupting teeth such as wisdom teeth can give a similar pain to toothache. This is caused the pressure of the tooth growing. Simple cleaning and pain relief will help.

Sensitivity is a very mild form of toothache caused by exposed nerves. Your Dentist will be able to cover the exposed area with a simple filling. Toothpastes specifically designed with sensitivity in mind can help but with varying success.

The close proximity of other vital structures to the teeth means that pain can be referred from the jaw bone, ears, gums (ulcers), sinuses, jaw joint to as far away as the heart in rare and extreme circumstances.

How can u prevent toothache?

Visiting your dental team is the best intervention. The Dentist and Hygienist are able to see and pick up problems before they develop. Your home care cleaning regime should consist of using Fluoride containing toothpaste twice daily along with flossing. You should aim to clean your tongue as well as your teeth. Limit your intacke of sugary foods and drinks at mealtimes only. Don’t smoke as it can make dental problems worse.

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