Your guide to toothache | Dental Treatment Guide

Toothache is commonly defined as pain that radiate from a tooth into the surrounding jaw or facial area. The most prevalent reason being toothache is if the nerve of the tooth (known as the pulp) has become inflamed, often as a result of decay. This inflammation is a natural response carried out by the body as a result of injury or an infection.

When the pulp becomes inflamed, it is given the name 'pulpitis'. You may first notice this due to a sharp pain that is induce whenever you eat or drink something hot, cold or sweet. If you approach your dentist at this point, then the problem can be reversed relatively simply.

If you leave the tooth untreated, the inflammation can get worse and become irreversible. This can leave you with a throbbing pain that increases over time. This pain can last minutes at a time and often requires no trigger, such as food or heat.

As this irreversible stage of pulpitis develops and evolves, the pulp itself may degrade and die, which will often provide you with a bittersweet relief of pain; although this is temporary. The dead pulp is now vulnerable to bacterial infection, which can create severe pain that may even wake you up at night.

The result of this infection is frequently an abscess. This is an accumulation of pus, which can be visualised as a painful lump either by the tooth affected or on your face. Other symptoms that show that the issue has reached this stage include severe pain when touching the tooth, fever and nausea.

If the abscess is untreated, there is potential for it to become chronic. Chronic infections can occur on and off throughout the rest of your life. Normally, you will notice a swelling on the gum. This is where the pus drains. This cannot harbour any symptoms but occasionally the infection will become aggressive and lead to more serious side effects.

What are the options if you experience toothache?

As soon as you notice even a single potential symptom of toothache, you should contact your dentist and book an appointment as soon as possible.

Until your appointment approaches, you should purchase some painkillers from a pharmacy. This can be done over-the-counter and examples are ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol. If you follow the instructions precisely, these can help deal with the symptoms while you wait for your dental visit.

If, for some reason, you are unable to obtain an appointment or if you are not a member of a dental practice, then it is possible for you to attend an emergency dental clinic for treatment. However, if you require any subsequent treatment, then you must find yourself a dentist.

How will a dentist deal with the toothache?

When you go for your dental appointment, you will have to answer questions about your toothache. These questions will be followed by an oral examination to identify potential signs and causes of the toothache, for example, tooth decay.

To diagnose the problem with accuracy, the dentist may employ the use of special tests and X-rays. The results of these can also help the dentist come up with an appropriate plan of treatment as well as a quote of a potential price.

If the dentist discovers that your tooth can be saved, they will then act by getting rid of any dental decay. Once this has been completed, they will either perform a root canal procedure or apply a filling to the tooth. Root canal procedures involve the infected pulp of the tooth being removed. The area is then cleaned thoroughly and the root is filled in order to prevent any potential infections in the further.

If the tooth cannot be saved, it must be removed quickly to prevent the spread of infection.

If you are suffering from an abscess, the dentist will act by draining out the pus and applying a temporary filling. Eventually, the tooth will require either extraction or a root canal.

If the infection is serious, you will be prescribed antibiotics. For these to be effective, you must follow the instructions both from your dentist and on the packet precisely.

How can I prevent toothache?

There are a number of ways that you can prevent suffering from toothache. These methods include:

  • Visiting your dentist regularly for check ups, cleaning and advice
  • Restricting the amount of sugary products in your diet
  • Try not to snack on sugary food or drink in between meals
  • If you feel the need to snack, eat foods such as cheese or fruit to limit the sugar intake
  • Ensure that you brush you teeth every morning or night for 2 minutes each time using a toothpaste containing fluoride
  • Use dental floss to thoroughly clean the areas between the teeth
  • After brushing and flossing your teeth, use a fluoride mouthwash to eliminate any left over bacteria or plaque