​Causes of toothache  

The main cause of toothache or tooth pain is tooth decay. It occurs when the nerve of the tooth is irritated by infection, decay, injury, or loss of a tooth. The primary reason to that is the bacteria that lives in your mouth and flourishes on sugars and starches from food particles inside the mouth. The bacteria form a sticky plaque onto the teeth surface. These bacteria produce acids, erodes the enamel (white hard coating on the outside of teeth) and creating cavities. One of the first indicators of decay is toothache when eating something very cold, very hot or sweet.

Toothaches are often a sign that a visit to the dentist is required.

Self-Care at Home

  • Rinse mouth with warm water. Toothache
  • Use dental floss remove any particle lodged between teeth.
  • Avoid very cold or hot foods which might make the pain worse.
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers maybe used to dull the ache, e.g. such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil).
  • To temporarily relieve pain, directly apply an OTC antiseptic containing benzocaine. Direct application of oil of cloves (eugenol) may help as well.
  • Aspirin or other painkillers must not be directly applied to gums, as they might burn the gum tissue.

When to see the dentist?

  • If there’s swelling.
  • If there’s pain when biting.
  • When there is foul-tasting discharge.
  • When there is gum redness.
  • When the pain persists for more than a couple of days.
  • When there's fever with the toothache.
  • When there is trouble breathing or swallowing.

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This information is provided by the NGHA Content Advisory Board and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your health care provider.

Last Modified

22-Mar-2015 12:46 PM