What causes toothaches?
In most cases, toothaches are caused by the accumulation of tooth decay. Bacteria that live in your mouth thrive on the sugars and starches in the food you eat. These bacteria form a sticky plaque that clings to the surface of your teeth. Acids produced by the bacteria in plaque can eat through the hard, white coating on the outside of your teeth (enamel), creating a cavity.
Are there other causes of toothache?
Yes, toothaches can also result from an infection in the gums or at the root of the teeth, trauma to the tooth, a split in the tooth (this occurs over time), teething and a sudden fracture of the tooth or tooth root. Note that a sinus infection may also be felt as a toothache (pain in the teeth).
See your dentist
It is imperative that you see your dentist as soon as possible if you have a fever, experience a difficulty in breathing or swallowing or if you experience pain that continues for more than 24 hours. In addition, you should seek a dentist’s assistance if you have signs and symptoms of infection. This may include pain when biting, swelling, red gums or a foul-tasting discharge in your mouth.
What you can do at home
Here are some things that you can do to help relieve toothache, until you are able to see the dentist.
Start by rinsing your mouth with warm water. Remove any plaque or food particles that may be lodged between your teeth – dental floss should be used.
You could also chat to your local pharmacist about prescribing an over-the-counter pain reliever to help dull the toothache. Ask him or her how the medication should be taken. An over-the-counter antiseptic may also be prescribed for temporary relief.
You could also try to apply eugenol (which is the oil of cloves) directly to the sore tooth and gum to numb the area. Using a small piece of cotton wool may be helpful in this regard.
Note that you can apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek if the cause of your toothache is caused by trauma (to the tooth).
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.