Tooth pain refers to all that pain which originates from and around the tooth. It is also referred to as ‘a toothache’ or ‘jaw pain’.
This is one of those indications that our body and the immune system gives us the reference to any present infection or inflammation.
Below we will see some of the major causes of a toothache and how to manage them.
What are the Different Kinds of Tooth Pain?
Although the end results of all kind of tooth pain are same we can roughly classify this into the following categories.
Sharp and Shooting Pain
This is a kind of a toothache where the person experiences shooting pain which is similar to the experience of getting pricked with the tip of a sharp knife. This pain sometimes may be triggered by external factors like food.
Some other times there might not be any definite cause to trigger such a pain. Shooting pain mostly is the result of an underlying tooth infection which was dormant for many days. Fractured tooth or cracked tooth can also give rise to such type of tooth pain.
Dull Throbbing Pain
This is a type of pain which is not suddenly aggravated. This can also be described as a lingering kind of pain. Dull throbbing pain may be due to persistent infection, impacted third molar, dental caries which has entered dentin and touching the pulp or severe sensitivity.
Sensitivity to Hot and Cold Food Item that Resembles Electric Shock Waves
Most of us have experienced this pain which is the commonest of toothaches. There is a sensation of electric shock which passes across your face originating from the tooth when you intake a hot and/or cold food item, especially beverages.
Pain while Eating or Biting
This may be the result of a periapical infection that is present below the roots of the tooth or a grossly destructive caries that has exposed the dentin or a fractured tooth whose nerve endings are exposed to the external environment.
What are the Main Causes of Tooth Pain?
Whatever may be the kind of a toothache you experience, it will most probably be caused by one of the following factors.
Tooth decay –
Dental caries that crosses the second layer of dentin and starts encroaching the pulp is one of the most common reasons for tooth sensitivity and pain. As the pulp comprises of a nerve tissue it starts sending out signals of an immediate danger in the form of pain waves which causes sensitivity and pain.
You can read about tooth decay in detail from here.
Periapical infection is the name given to the infection that is present below the tooth root. This is caused by the microorganisms that have crossed the third layer pulp and entered the roots and crossed them as well.
Teeth that pain on eating are the perfect examples of the presence of such infections. Pain on sleeping, is also an indication of the presence of periapical infections.
Infections involving periodontal layer (the layer comprising of connective tissue that supports the tooth and acts as a protective covering) cause tooth pain and mobility.
Dislodged or Fractured Filling
A restoration that has been dislodged recently or fractured at the edges can also cause moderate to severe pain depending on the extent of the damage. Such a fractured or dislodged filling will expose the underlying cavity and the inner tooth layer to the external environment causing pain.
Trauma or Accidents
Jaw fractures will obviously cause pain of the involved teeth.
Abscesses are the sac-like structures that are nothing more than a collection of pus and infective microorganisms. These abscesses may cause excruciating pain and swelling.
Sometimes the pain may also be due to some reason other than the teeth, like in Sinusitis or Ear infection.
This is called ‘a referred pain’ which usually doesn’t originate from the region but is felt anyway. Pain that originates from mouth ulcers is another example.
Worse kind of referred tooth pain may be felt in cases of oral cancers.
Management of Tooth Pain
This is one of those situations where the visit to a dentist’s office is a must.
But if you experience tooth pain at some odd circumstances where a dentist is not available or you can’t visit the dentist for some or the other reason, you can use one of the following methods as a temporary measure.
Home Remedies for Tooth Pain
- Preferably take an over the counter analgesic. This is a must and should. Otherwise managing pain will be next to impossible.
- You can use oils like clove oil, sesame oil or tea tree oil as a mild anti-inflammatory and analgesic agent.Just soak a cotton pellet in one of these, preferably clove oil and place it on the exposed paining tooth. In rare cases, some patients have also recorded a severe increase in pain on exposure to such oil. So be careful and use in small amounts.
- Salt and warm water used together can relieve your tooth pain temporarily. Don’t do it if you are a known high blood pressure patient.
- Some people use Peppermint tea bags instead of clove oil to relieve pain temporarily.
- Cotton balls soaked in Bourbon can also be used as a temporary pain relief treatment at home.
- Other items that can be used as toothache home remedies are Vanilla extracts and Garlic.
Tooth Pain Management In the Dentist’s Office
Once you are at the dentist’s clinic you don’t have to worry about managing the pain yourself. Here’s what your dentist might do, to relieve your pain.
- If the pain is due to periapical infection the dentist might do an access opening of the tooth and drain the root canals under local anesthesia. This is mainly done to drain any possible abscess or infection that is present peri apically.
- If there is a large swelling or abscess accompanied by the pain, the dentist might drain the abscess by giving an incision externally.
- If there is a long-standing infection you might have to undergo a course of antibiotics to reduce the infection and make way for future treatments.
- Root canal treatment (RCT) is another popular choice for removing all the infective microorganism from within the tooth. Teeth will later be restored with sealants and other restorative material.
- If there is no other option available and the tooth is already severely damaged, tooth extraction will be carried out.
- In severe sensitivity cases, RCT is the treatment of choice.
- Referred pain can be relieved only after treating the root cause.
- Tooth pain due to impacted teeth will be treated by extracting the embedded tooth with surgical methods.