If you’ve ever experienced tooth pain, you know it can be a major inconvenience. Tooth pain can result from many conditions, ranging from cavities to gum disease to seemingly unrelated circumstances. Because there can be so many things that cause tooth pain, it can be a challenge to know when to seek treatment or when the discomfort may naturally resolve itself. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss some common causes of tooth pain and when you should reach out to a provider.
Identifying the Causes of Tooth Aching
Uncovering the root of tooth pain is vital in determining the correct treatment and halting further discomfort.
Unsurprisingly, dental issues are the usual culprits behind tooth pain. Here are a few common dental problems that can cause tooth pain:
- Dental issues often stem from tooth decay and can trigger a toothache. As decay advances and cavities form, bacteria and acid can penetrate the inner tooth material (pulp), leading to toothache.
- Gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis can also cause tooth pain. These conditions can cause the gums to swell, and your gums may become more sensitive. Over time, discomfort from gum disease can spread throughout the mouth if you don’t seek treatment.
- Grinding your teeth can also result in significant toothache due to enamel damage and potential headaches, signaling stress on the teeth and jaws.
- A cracked or damaged tooth can also be sensitive and painful.
It’s worth noting that not all tooth pain originates from dental issues. Non-dental issues can also play a significant role. For instance, the pressure and congestion from sinus infections can impact the upper rear teeth, leading to discomfort and tooth pain. In rare circumstances, non-dental medical conditions like heart disease can result in tooth pain. Problems with the lungs can impact the vagus nerve, leading to toothache pain. However, these are unique situations — the vast majority of toothaches come from a dental condition.
Effective Home Remedies for Tooth Pain Relief
In many cases, once you know what’s causing your tooth pain, you can take measures at home to help reduce discomfort until you have an appointment with your dentist.
Natural remedies for tooth pain relief can be a handy tool in your oral care arsenal. Some examples include:
- Warm salt water rinses can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria in the mouth.
- Cold compresses can help reduce swelling.
- Some people have successfully applied peppermint tea bags to the affected area to numb the pain.
- Naturopaths favor clove oil for addressing dental pain by soaking a cotton ball in diluted clove oil and applying to the painful tooth.
- Mouth guards can help prevent pain that results from tooth grinding.
These natural remedies are generally considered safe, but if you experience persistent pain, you should consult with a provider.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers that can provide temporary relief from tooth pain include:
- Topical numbing gels or liquids such as Orajel, Abesol, and Orasol.
These over-the-counter solutions can provide near-immediate relief — but they shouldn’t be used for more than 7 consecutive days. If your pain lingers beyond a week, it’s time to talk with your primary care doctor or a dentist.
Professional Treatments for Persistent Tooth Pain
In some cases, home remedies might not be enough to alleviate tooth pain, especially when it becomes persistent or recurring. That’s when it’s time to seek professional treatment.
Dental Fillings and Restorations
Dental fillings and restorations are common treatments for repairing cavities and damaged teeth, ultimately alleviating tooth pain. After the procedure, it is common for the tooth and surrounding area to be sensitive. However, this sensitivity typically diminishes within a few days.
Root Canal Therapy
For severe tooth decay or infection, root canal therapy may be necessary. This procedure involves removing the inflamed or infected pulp from inside the tooth. Root canals alleviate pain and preserve the tooth, which may otherwise require extraction.
In cases where the tooth is severely damaged or impacted, extraction may be necessary. Recovery following a tooth extraction varies from person to person. Most individuals experience a return to normalcy within a few days. However, it is advisable to rest for approximately 48-72 hours post-extraction to facilitate clotting in the treatment area.
Preventing Tooth Pain: Tips for Optimal Oral Health
Prevention is always better than cure. This old adage holds true for dental health as well. Preventing tooth pain and maintaining optimal oral health can be achieved through a daily oral care routine, regular dental checkups, and healthy diet and lifestyle choices, as recommended by the American Dental Association.
Daily Oral Care Routine
Maintaining a daily oral care routine is one of the best ways to prevent tooth pain and other oral health issues. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque from between your teeth and along your gum line. You can also talk with your dentist about using a mouthwash once or twice a day which can help keep bacteria at bay and freshen your breath.
Regular Dental Checkups
You should have a dental checkup twice a year. At a routine checkup, a hygienist will perform a deep cleaning, and you’ll see a dentist so they can evaluate the overall health of your teeth. You may also have x-rays done. If you’re at a higher risk of dental disease, you may need to visit your dentist more frequently.
Diet and Lifestyle Choices
Your diet and lifestyle choices play a significant role in your oral health. A balanced diet provides essential nutrients for the growth, development, and maintenance of oral structures and helps prevent oral diseases and conditions.
Avoiding acidic foods and drinks is essential in preserving tooth enamel and avoiding tooth sensitivity, as the acid in such foods and drinks can gradually erode the enamel. And you know we always recommend staying hydrated!
When to Seek Professional Help for Tooth Pain
Though home remedies may offer temporary relief, certain cases of tooth pain necessitate professional medical attention. Professional help is necessary if symptoms call for emergency dental care or if pain persists despite home remedies.
Emergency Dental Care
Emergency dental care is recommended if you’re experiencing:
- Severe tooth pain
- Severe swelling
- Swelling in your face or gums
- A loose tooth
- Bleeding in your mouth
- Broken or knocked-out teeth
- A dental abscess
- A broken tooth or a cracked tooth
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek urgent dental treatment. Remember, an emergency dental situation is not limited to pain alone. Any issue that requires immediate attention to save a tooth, stop ongoing bleeding, or alleviate severe pain is considered a dental emergency. Community Access Network has a dedicated dental facility that our patients can contact in case of an emergency.
Persistent tooth pain unresponsive to home remedies should be treated seriously, as it may indicate an underlying issue.
Persistent tooth pain could be due to:
- An infected tooth
- Teeth grinding
- A cavity or crack in the tooth
- Chronic nerve pain
- An issue with an existing filling or crown
- Tooth decay, a common cause of toothache
- Gum disease
If you’re concerned you may have one of these conditions, talk to your dentist. Early intervention is key to preventing a more serious issue.
Community Access Network Can Help Address Your Dental Pain
If you’re experiencing a stubborn toothache or you’d like to improve your dental care, Community Access Network is here to serve you. Our main facility is conveniently located in Downtown Lynchburg, and we have a dedicated dental facility that our patients can be referred to. If you’re already a patient at CAN and need dental treatment, call us, and we can schedule you! Or, if you’ve never seen one of our providers, head over to our 5th Street location and we’ll be happy to assist you.