There is something about the quality of discomfort of a toothache that makes it impossible to forget.
My tooth feels like a hot rod is being probed into it.
My tooth feels like an electric shock is zapping my brain.
My tooth feels like it is throbbing with every beat of my heart.
My tooth feels like it is being pushed out of the socket and the nerve is pinched with every bite.
My tooth feels like it is turned on to the pain channel when hot or cold touches it.
My tooth feels like sweets touch the inside and remind me not to go there.
You can usually read a book, or otherwise distract yourself from awareness of a backache, a muscle cramp, or a creaky joint. But a TOOTHACHE is just THERE.
Because of the intimate connections of the Cranial Nerves to your Brain...
You just cannot ignore a toothache.
A toothache is generally the result of dental cavities (tooth decay) or sometimes an infection. Tooth decay is often caused by poor dental hygiene, although the tendency to get tooth decay is partly inherited.
Sometimes, pain that's felt in the tooth is actually due to pain in other parts of the body. This is called referred pain or radiating pain. For example, an earache may sometimes cause tooth pain.
First Aid for Toothaches
Toothache is suffered by many people but there can be many causes:
- Abscessed tooth
- Injury to the jaw or mouth
- Heart attack (can include jaw pain, neck pain, or toothache)
- Tooth decay
Toothache requires the immediate attention of a dentist to:
- minimize your suffering and
- maximize your healing and quick recovery.
Over-the-counter pain medications (toothache drops, etc.) can cause further tooth nerve damage in some tooth decay conditions and be completely ineffctive in others.
Until you can see your dentist, try these self-care tips for a toothache:
- DO NOT PUT AN ASPIRIN ON THE HURTING TOOTH
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Use dental floss to remove any food particles wedged between your teeth.
- Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever to dull the ache.
Swelling, pain when you bite, a foul-tasting discharge and gum redness indicate infection. See a dentist as soon as possible.
For toothaches caused by a tooth abscess, the dentist may recommend antibiotic therapy and other treatments, like root canal.
Call your health care provider if
Seek dental care if:
- You have a severe toothache
- You have a toothache that lasts longer than a day or two
- You have fever, earache, or pain upon opening the mouth wide
Note: The dentist is an appropriate person to see for most causes of toothaches. However, if the problem is referred pain from another location, you may need to see your primary health care provider.
What to expect.
Dr. Russell will examine you. The physical examination may include an examination of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue throat, ears, nose, and neck. You may need dental x-rays. The dentist may recommend other tests, depending on the suspected cause.
The dentist will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- When did the pain start?
- How severe is the pain?
- Where is the pain located?
- Does it involve the jaw or ears?
- Does it radiate to other parts of the body, such as the neck, shoulder, or arm?
- What makes it worse?
- Is it worse after cold foods or liquids?
- Is it worse after sweet foods or liquids?
- Is it worse after chewing?
- Is it worse after drinking?
- Does it throb with your pulse?
- Is it worse when you exert pressure on the hurting area?
- Is it worse after physical exertion?
- Does the pain wake you up at night?
- What makes it better? Warmth? Cold? Sitting Up?Laying Down?
- Is it better after you use medications? (Which ones?)
- Is it better after you use a heating pad?
- Is it better after you rest?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- Fever ?
- Chest pain?
- What medications do you take?
- Have you fallen, been hit in the mouth or otherwise been injured?
- Have you had previous dental problems?
Treatment may involve fillings, tooth removal, or a root canal, if the problem is severe. If there is a fever or swelling of the jaw, an antibiotic will usually be prescribed.
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