Toothache is the pain of teeth or the surrounding structures like gums. You can get a toothache if there is an infection in or around your teeth, in the gums. Dental pulp, which carries nerve messages and transmits your pain, may be damaged due to injuries or deep infection in your teeth and is responsible for your toothache.

Sometimes toothache has other pain sources not in the teeth but has other causes, which is called nondental pain. Facial nerves, muscles and joints in cheeks and jaws can also lead to a toothache. Even, migraines and other different types of headaches are possible causes of your painful toothache.

The main causes of toothache are:

  • Injuries or trauma to teeth
  • Abscess in the gum or periodontal ligament
  • An infection in the gums
  • Cavities and deep tooth decay
  • Headaches
  • Bad oral habits like clenching/grinding teeth or bruxism
  • Extreme heat or cold surfaces that stimulate nerves in teeth
  • An inflamed pulp in teeth
  • TMJ
  • Extracted or impacted teeth
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Sinus and nasal problems
  • Disorders in salivary gland
  • A previous endodontic therapy

What are the symptoms of toothache?

According to the different sources of pain, symptoms of toothache are varied. Generally the toothache symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Swelling or even bleeding around teeth
  • Redness and signs of infection around teeth and in the gums
  • Headaches
  • Bad smells in the mouth
  • Feeling bad tastes

Why should you visit a dentist for a toothache?

The pain of a toothache is sometimes confusing and you don’t know if the pain is from your teeth or from other parts of mouth or maybe muscles nerves in your face. But you don’t have time to think about the source of pain, all you want is to just get rid of the toothache. This is why most of the people will ask for a quick remedy.

Most of the remedies may relieve your pain in an instant, but how about the fact that your toothache is actually not from the teeth area or infections around your teeth. Maybe, facial nerves, temporomandibular disorders or a headache is causing the toothache. So you need to visit the dentist for the source of the pain.

Common medications for toothache

You must ask your dentist before using painkillers because you may not need any medications or your toothache may come from other sources that needs a visit to the dentist. Remember, for using painkillers for children, you must first consult with a dentist.

In case of urgency, some medications come in handy to relieve your toothache like:

#Dose for children(mg)Dose for adults(mg)Type of pain
Acetaminophen10 -15 mg325 – 500 mgmild
Ibuprophen4 -10 mg400 – 800 mgmild
Hydrocodone0.1 – 0.2 mg5 – 10 mgmoderate
OxycodoneNot for children!2.5 – 10 mgsevere
TramadolNot for children!50 – 100 mgsevere

Tips on using medications for toothache

  • Consult the dentist before using the toothache painkillers
  • Never use painkillers in children unless the dentist tells you to do
  • Relieving pain in children especially under 3 years old must be under dentists or pediatricians’ suggestion
  • For exact dose (the amount and taking per day),ask your dentist
  • Painkillers are temporarily pain relievers and if pain doesn’t go away, you should visit a dentist
  • Knowing the exact source of pain will help both you and the dentist to treat your toothache better

What happens when you visit a dentist for a toothache?

As you call a dentist and make an appointment to visit the dentist, you want to know what is going to happen. Dentists almost always take x-rays or other radiographic images to find the source of pain. The x-rays will show if there is any problems with the root of your teeth, an impacted tooth or any other possible causes of the pain.

The dentist will test if the problem is from the nerve system of your teeth by pulp vitality tests. Also, they check out your mouth and teeth. For example, you may have a broken restoration or a fractured tooth, which is causing the pain.

What is the treatment of toothache?

The pain of toothache is sometimes so severe that wakes you up in the middle of night. In the past, people would go and immediately extract the tooth that was causing the pain. With today’s advances in dental fields, saving even one tooth is a priority unless the targeted tooth is severely worn down and useless.

Over the-counter painkillers may work well for a short period of time and sometimes dentists use these painkillers as they call them by analgesics to get rid of your toothache before starting a treatment. But for a basic prevention of future toothaches that may happen again and cause you a lot of pain, dentists have plans according to the cause of pain.

 The common treatments of toothache are:

  • Root canal treatment (endodontic therapy)
  • Restoring the damaged tooth or teeth
  • Treating the impacted tooth
  • Using antibiotics to clean the gums and kill bacterial infection

Can extraction of a tooth cause toothache?

Usually after dental surgeries, toothache is a common pain that you may feel. Toothache after extracting a tooth starts about 12 hours after surgery and will go away soon. If pain is bothering you, over-the-counter toothache medications can relieve your pain.

Can headache/earache or sinus cause toothache?

You may have chronic headache and you easily know what its feel like having a headache, which at the same time may leave you in pain in your teeth. Because in our orofacial region, which includes our ears, head, temporomandibular joints and sinus region, when nerves in this areas are causing a pain, this pain may sometimes show itself with similar signs of a toothache or even cause pain in your teeth. You feel pains like electric shocks, throbbing, stabbing and itching feelings which come out of nowhere or may continue for hours in or around your teeth.

Can TMJ cause toothache?

TMJ or temporomandibular Joints happens when there is dysfunction in the joints in the jaw and facial parts. You can’t open or close your mouth comfortably and there is a clicking sound upon jaw movements in your mouth. Anxiety, stress, mechanical problems in the joints and bruxism and clenching habits are some important causes of TMJs disorders. If you ignore treating the TMJ, it can cause you problems with your chewing, speaking and even yawning.

The pain of TMJ can take many forms and includes mainly the joints in the jaws, but it can cause headache and also toothache.

What is the best way to prevent toothache?

Toothache can easily ruin your day and cost you a sleepless night looking for pain killers.

The best way is not a magic but doing oral hygiene practices. Brush your teeth regularly, floss your teeth to prevent food particle to remain between your teeth, use mouthwashes and oral cleaning rinses to clean the gums and any infection in your mouth. Finally, try to value what precious piece of pearls you have in your mouth and keep them clean.     

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