Teeth; the cutting edge of our diet, the centrepiece of our smile; where would we be without teeth? Well, a rather gummy, unattractive place, to say the least.
Yet, while we take the rest of us to a bath or shower for regular maintenance, how often do we take our teeth to a basin armed with a toothbrush? Sadly, life can get in the way of effective oral hygiene regimes and toothache is often the result.
In this article, we’ll walk you through all the nasties that can cause toothache and offer plenty of advice on how to get rid of it. We’ll also tell you how to avoid it in the first place.
So, first things first…
What actually causes toothache?
How long is a piece of dental floss? A bunch of things can cause toothache to flare up and ruin our day.
Tooth decay happens when the bacteria in plaque cut into the enamel surface of your teeth. If nerve endings become exposed in the dentine at the heart of your tooth, look out!
Abscesses do not make the heart grow fonder. In fact, an abscess caused by decay or gum disease can cause severe pain and infection in the roots of your teeth.
It sounds nasty and it is. Any untreated plaque beneath your gums can damage the jaw bone, causing loose and aching teeth.
Bruxism is a strange name for a common complaint – teeth grinding. Grinding your teeth can wear teeth down in the same way waves wear rocks down over time. If sensitive areas become exposed, the result is a toothache.
Ironically, impacted teeth fail to make much of an impact at all as they barely show up through your gums. However, impacted wisdom teeth or molars can cause severe pain
A badly aligned tooth is like a crocodile in a queue – ultimately, it’s going to cause disruption, and that can be bad news for the rest of your teeth.
A chipped tooth due to a sports injury or inadvertent elbow can expose sensitive areas under the hard outer enamel and lead to major discomfort.
What do you do if you get a toothache?
Grin and bear it? No, that’s the last thing you want to do. Even if the toothache goes away, whatever caused the ache in the first place is still lurking. Teeth and gums don’t just miraculously repair themselves.
Head to a dentist fast
The best thing to do is make haste to your nearest dentist. Not only will this cut your pain short, but it can also cut your bill. The longer you leave the problem, the more decay and disease can take hold. And that means more pain for you both physically and financially.
What will the dentist do?
They’ll get to the root of the problem fast, no pun intended. Once they’ve worked out what’s causing your toothache, they will recommend appropriate treatment, be it a simple filling or something slightly more involved, such as a crown or root canal.
But don’t worry, dental visits these days are a pretty stress-free and painless experience compared to what they used to be.
What if you can’t get to the dentist right away?
Try to make an appointment for when you can, so at least you know it is happening. Then it’s all about pain management.
There are a few tried-and-true DIY ways to at least ease your discomfort. But do remember, these are not a fix even if the pain goes away.
Try gargling a glass of salted water
No, it won’t win any prizes for taste, but salted water can help to reduce any swelling and wash away bacteria. Simply add up to half a teaspoon of normal table salt to a glass of warm water, stir and gargle for 5 seconds or more. Don’t swallow salted water unless you like a gag with your gargle.
Apply an ice compress
Ice is great for numbing pain and a few blocks of ice wrapped in a hand towel will do the trick. Simply hold this to your cheek against the affected area for a while. Oh, and don’t stick ice cubes directly on the tooth. That could actually add to your pain as teeth have a reputation for being a bit sensitive.
Pop a painkiller
If you’re still in trouble, standard pharmacy-issue pain relief will help you sleep and see you through the worst of it until that all-important dentist visit.
How do you stop toothache in the first place?
Of course, that’s what we all should try to do. And for most tooth-related issues, a proper dental hygiene regime is all it takes. That means brushing your teeth three times a day. Brush after meals and also after drinking anything sweet, such as sodas and orange juice.
Flossing is also a good idea at least once a day and you can top all this off with a decent daily rinse with mouthwash.
Finally, make sure you get regular dental checkups to stop small problems from becoming big.