Toothache is most often caused by cavities. When the cavity extends from the enamel deep into the dental pulp, it irritates the tissue containing the nerves of the pulp. This causes pain. Toothache can also be caused by various infections. The origin of the toothache caused by inflammation may be, for example, an impact to the tooth or a filling that extends close to the dental pulp.
Prior to actual pain and toothache, many things have usually already happened in the mouth: the inflammation may progress very far with very few symptoms. A toothache is nearly always a sign that it is time to make an appointment with the dentist. Sometimes, of course, toothache and pain are temporary.
Even if the toothache is relieved from time to time and you are able to live with it, it is good to find out what is causing the pain. If the toothache is accompanied by swelling, you must go to the emergency room.
Toothache – symptoms
At first, a toothache may cause symptoms only on rare occasions. It is typical that at first short-term pain is felt in the tooth only when a person eats something sweet or cold, for example. As the inflammation progresses, temperature fluctuations and mechanical stress (e.g., biting, tapping on the tooth) cause longer-term pain. If the inflammation is not treated, the pain increases, intensifies and starts to feel throbbing. Eventually, the toothache can be very intense, and the pain may radiate to a wide area.
Before the dentist
When you have a toothache, it is of the utmost importance to see a dentist. If you can’t get an appointment right away, it is good to relieve the pain with an over-the-counter medicine, for example paracetamol or ibuprofen. Cold or hot compress treatment may also to some extent relieve the pain.
Toothache and its treatment
A toothache is most often caused by a cavity. If the cavity does not reach the dental pulp, it is often enough to remove the damaged tissue and do a filling.
If the inflammation extends to the dental pulp and the symptoms are substantial, you must go to the emergency room. At the emergency appointment, the dentist removes the damaged tooth tissue and the inflamed pulp tissue (the space in the core of the tooth, which contains, inter alia, nerves and blood vessels). First aid measures performed at the emergency appointment also include temporary fillings, pain medication, and possibly antibiotics. After first aid, root canal therapy is performed.
If the patient is a child and the infection is in the deciduous tooth, the treatment option may also be to remove the tooth.
When to go to the dentist?
In the case of a child’s toothache, in principle it is good to always make an appointment with a dentist. An adult can postpone the visit for a few days if there is no swelling or problems with swallowing and opening the mouth, and the pain is not unbearable.
Odontophobia, or dental fear, may prevent you from coming to the clinic, even if the pain is constant. There is no need to be ashamed of the fear because dentists now have many methods of varying degrees to address the situation.