If you have a toothache, you may be wondering what the cause is and how you can get relief as fast as possible. Below, we explore common causes of toothaches, some home remedies that may help, prevention strategies you can use to keep future toothaches at bay, and when it’s time to see a dentist.
Common Causes of a Toothache
A toothache can be caused by a number of things, including:
Cavities & Tooth Decay
Cavities are the most common cause of toothaches. They are the result of bacteria breaking down the enamel on your teeth, where it causes tooth decay, pain, and sensitivity.
Infection or Abscess
An infection in the tooth or the surrounding gum tissue can cause severe pain. An abscess is a pus-filled sac that can form in the tooth, in the gums, or at the root of the tooth. These require immediate treatment, potentially a root canal, and usually antibiotic medication.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the infection and inflammation of gum tissue, usually caused by poor oral hygiene, particularly neglecting to floss in between the teeth.
Grinding & Bruxism
Grinding your teeth, a condition called bruxism, can wear down the enamel and cause tooth and jaw pain, headaches, and neck strain. This is often caused by stress or anxiety and becomes worse at night.
Home Remedies for a Toothache
A toothache can be mildly bothersome, or it can cause blinding pain. When you can’t get to a dentist right away, there are a few things you can do at home to ease the pain of a toothache, like the following:
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water. This can help to clean out any food or bacteria that may be causing your toothache.
- Use a cold compress. Applying an ice pack to your cheek can help reduce mild pain and swelling.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce pain and inflammation, but be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging.
How to Prevent Toothaches
Toothaches are easier to prevent than they are to treat. The following tips can help keep future dental pain at bay:
- Practice good oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and using a non-drying alcohol-free mouthwash.
- Avoid foods that can damage your teeth. This includes hard candies, ice, chewing gum, and popcorn kernels.
- Don’t use your teeth as tools. This means avoiding biting your nails, opening packages with your teeth, and chewing on hard objects like pencils.
- See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. Frequent exams will help remove any plaque or tartar buildup that could lead to tooth decay or gum disease – both of which can cause toothaches.
When to Make a Dentist Appointment
There are certain instances when you should see your dentist right away if you have a toothache. For example, the following situations require an immediate assessment:
Your toothache lasts longer than two days.
If your toothache does not go away after two days, the problem is more likely to be something you can’t fix on your own, like a cavity or infection.
You experience severe pain.
If your toothache is so severe that it interferes with your daily activities, you should see your dentist right away. Severe pain could be a sign of an infection or other serious issue.
Your face or gum tissue appears swollen or enlarged.
Swelling in the face or gums can be a sign of periodontal disease or an abscessed tooth. If your dental pain is accompanied by swelling, you need to see a dentist right away.
You also have a fever over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
A fever along with a toothache is an indicator of a possible infection. If you have both, make a same-day dentist appointment so they can determine the cause and start treatment if necessary.
Schedule An Appointment At Hebert Family Dentistry
A toothache may be letting you know there’s a serious underlying dental problem. If you have dental pain that is severe or doesn’t go away quickly, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause and get treatment. Hebert Family Dentistry is a North Lafayette, Louisiana dentist that can treat toothaches and dental pain caused by a wide variety of issues.
Call today to book an appointment at our comfortable North Lafayette dental clinic by calling 337.233.1271 or filling out our short online contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.