Toothache – The Facts

Posted on August 4, 2009 in Dental Articles

PictureAbout 5 million people visit their dentist with toothache every year. Toothache is a common problem that can be prevented with good oral health.

Toothache occurs because the pulp of the tooth is exposed, disturbed or infected. The pulp is the inner layer of the tooth which engulfed in a layer of dentin and then by the hard layer that we see called the enamel, which is packed full of minerals. Toothache can also occur if just the outer enamel layer is damaged exposing only the dentin.

It is very important that you go to dentist if you have toothache so that they can apply appropriate treatment to ease your discomfort.

The most common dental causes of toothache are:

  • Tooth Root Sensitivities oversensitivity when consuming hot or cold, sweet or sour food and beverages. 
  • Tooth Decay – also known as tooth ‘cavities’ or tooth caries’.
  • Tooth Abcess – a complication of tooth decay.
  • Gum Disease – also known as gingivitis and in severe cases periodontal disease.
  • Jaw Disease – also known as TMJ (Tempo-Mandibular Joint) dysfunction.
  • Cracked Tooth

Tooth Root Sensitivities occur when bacterial toxins get to work and dissolve the bone around the root of the tooth, the gum and bone recede explosing the root of the tooth causing the sensitivity and toothache. This is then likely to lead to chronic gum disease.

Treatment: Visit your dentist. Fluoride gel and sensitivity toothpaste that contain fluoride will both help the root to become stronger and in turn reduce the toothache. 

Tooth Decay occurs when the minerals of the enamel are dissolved by the acid created by bacteria by mouth known as plaque. This demineralisation of the enamel forms a hole in the tooth exposing the dentin causing the toothache. If the toothache is severe then the hole has most likely exposed the inner pulp as well.

Treatment: Your dentist will apply filling to the tooth cavity, large cavities may need a crown. If the cavity damages the inner pulp then a root canal procedure or extraction of the tooth may be necessary to stop the toothache.

Tooth Abscess occur when a dental cavity has been left untreated. The bacteria has infected the tooth from the inner pulp all the way up to the bone tissue at the end of the root causing severe toothache.

Treatment: Your dentist will have to carry out a root canal procedure. If this is unsuccessful then the tooth will have to be removed.

Gum Disease occurs when the soft tissue in our mouths becomes infected due to build up of plaque or tartar along the gum line and likely accompanied by bleeding gum.

Treatment: In mild cases dentist will help you more informed to improve your oral hygiene. Root planning may need to be done. In more severe cases the surface of the inflamed gum tissue will have to be removed which is known as sub gingival curettage.

Jaw Disease usually occurs when there has been an impact or injury to the head such as whiplash. Bruxism (grinding of the teeth) often leads to TMJ as well as arthritis and having an overbite.

Treatment: Your dentist will fit special intraoral splint for you to wear. If your bite needs to be fixed then crowns and orthodontic treatment are medication to relieve the toothache.

Cracked Tooth such as an injury to the mouth, bruxism, chewing on hard objects or extreme changes in temperature on your teeth (such as eating hot food immediately followed by an iced drink).

Treatment: Your dentist will evaluate the treatment needed depending on the severity of the crack. Filling or root canal treatment are medication.Picture

Whatever the cause of your toothache it is important you see a dentist so that they can determine the cause and apply the appropriate treatment. If you have to wait for your appointment then soothe the pain you can apply a cold compress to the area of the check where the toothache is. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water and taking aspirin will also help. A good oral hygiene routine will prevent any toothache occuring.