The pain of a toothache can be felt in the tooth itself or in the region around the tooth. Most toothaches are usually the result of either a cavity or an infection beneath or around the gum of a tooth. Insufficient oxygen to the heart as experienced with angina or a heart attack can also cause a toothache. A toothache is common after having corrective dental work on a tooth, but this should not last longer than a week. (If it does, inform the dentist.)
Generally, toothaches can be prevented with regular visits to the dentist and daily self-care measures. Self-care includes proper daily brushing and flossing, good nutrition and using fluoridated water, toothpaste, rinse and supplement (if prescribed).
Tell your dentist if you notice any of the following. (They may lead to a toothache if left unchecked.)
- Sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet foods
- Brown spots or little holes on a tooth
- A change in your bite – the way your teeth fit together
- Loose teeth in an adult
- To reduce discomfort, take aspirin or other mild pain reliever.
- Hold an ice pack on the jaw. This will relieve some of the pain.
- Never place a crushed aspirin on the tooth. Aspirin burns the gums and destroys tooth enamel.
- Do not drink extremely hot or cold liquids.
- Do not chew gum.
- Avoid sweets, soft drinks and hot and spicy foods. (These can irritate cavities and increase pain.) It may be best not to eat at all until you see your doctor.
- Gargle with warm salt water every hour.
- For a cavity, pack it with a piece of sterile cotton soaked in oil of cloves (available at pharmacies.)
- See a dentist even if the pain subsides.
Questions to Ask
Do you have any of these problems with the tooth pain?
Are any of the following symptoms present?