‘For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently’
William Shakespeare, MuchAdoAbout Nothing
The most common cause of toothache is dental decay – i.e.: a cavity. This is caused by bacteria (plaque) turning the sugar we eat into acid, this slowly over time produces a hole in the tooth.
The hole allows toxins to irritate the nerve in the tooth and this causes pain. It’s treated in the early stages by removing the decay and placing a filling in the tooth.
At a later stage we would need to also remove the nerve itself by using root canal therapy.
The final resort would be the extraction of the offending tooth.
You can also get toothache from gum disease; however, this is less common. It can occur as a result of the loss of grip of the gum and then bacteria can irritate or infect the nerve of the tooth.
Root canal therapy and gum treatments often relieve the problem but extraction is more than likely the only certain cure.
Wisdom teeth can cause pain and this is commonly treated with antibiotics and extraction.
A cracked or fractured tooth may also cause toothache and this can be particularly painful on biting. The treatment is generally to provide a crown to hold the tooth together and prevent further disintegration.
Dry socket is a condition causing pain following extraction when the socket becomes infected – this too generally needs antibiotics.
Mouth pain may sometimes be caused by neuralgia i.e.: nerve pain. This requires very careful management as it is easy to mistake this as genuine toothache and treat the teeth rather than the nerve. It is treated with drugs which in effect calm the nerve.
The severity of toothache can range from mild to severe; it can be experienced over a long, continual period of time or be more sporadic.
The pain can be aggravated by chewing or hot and cold foods and drinks.
An oral examination and x-rays usually reveals the cause and treatment can be provided without pain.
We at Fresh Dental Care really sympathise with our patients who experience toothache and are keen, almost as much as the patient, to get rid of the problem as soon as possible.