General Dental Informtion


man suffering from toothache and touching his cheek

Seeing a dentist is the best action one can take when having a toothache, but what if it happens suddenly and at night? Treating a toothache is not certainly possible merely by home remedies unless its cause is diagnosed and treated fundamentally by a dentist.

The message a toothache gives you is that your dental nerves are being threatened by damage or infection. Thus, if you don’t take fast and on-time action, you may lose your natural teeth. Note that if, as well as a toothache, you have a high fever and headache, you have to see a dentist for your dental emergency.

a muslim woman complaining about her toothache dentist

A muslim woman complaining about her toothache dentist

Levels of toothaches

A toothache can range from mild to very severe levels. Also, your pain may stop at times or be persistent. One of the following symptoms may occur with a toothache:

  • Pain and swelling around the gums and teeth
  • Often types of fevers
  • Sever and sharp pain while chewing food or touching a tooth
  • Pain and sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • A feeling of burning with sudden pain (this is usually rare)

The cause of a toothache

One of the common causes of toothache is tooth decay. If it is not treated, dental infections and abscesses will spread to the oral cavity. This dental infection may happen near the tooth or inside the tooth pulp. In this situation, it is very important to see a dentist quickly and avoid self-medication and wasting your time to see a dentist. To treat the pain and infection of the teeth a root canal is required which is better to be done by an experienced root expert.

Sometimes a hidden tooth may lead to toothache. This pain occurs when a tooth is stuck inside the gum tissues or a bone. Normally this is the case with the wisdom tooth. The wisdom tooth should be operated by an experienced specialist to be removed from the mouth. Notice that for treating the other hidden teeth, seeing a competent orthodontist is highly crucial.

One of the other causes of a toothache is sinusitis. Sinusitis often lead s to pain in or near the upper teeth. This is mainly due as the upper teeth’s roots are very close to the sinuses.

Rare causes of toothache

Heart diseases and lung cancer can rarely lead to a toothache. Also, this pain can be a symptom of a heart attack.

Depending on the location, it may be located in the vagus nerve, heart and respiratory diseases may result in a toothache. This nerve extends from the brain to different organs of the body like lungs and heart. Moreover, this nerve passes through the jaw.

Trigeminal neuralgia and occipital neuralgia are painful nervous conditions which can irritate or inflame your trigeminal and dental nerves. These nerves spread inside the skull, face and teeth. So, stimulating these nerves may make you feel a toothache.

Treating a toothache

In order to treat a toothache, clinical and medical treatment is often required. In these scenarios you can take a painkiller before seeing a dentist, however let your dentist know before. As each patient differs the painkiller may be allowed to some degree or not.

When you visit a dentist, a picture of your teeth may be taken. Also, he/she can diagnose your tooth decay by examining your tooth and taking appropriate actions to treat it. The orthodontist may initially prescribe antibiotics or painkillers to treat your toothache.

If the root of your tooth has not been seriously damaged, a dentist can treat the root and repair the decayed tooth. However, in some cases, the root of a tooth is ruined due to severe decay and the dentist has to extract it. When the cause of a toothache is other than a decay or damaged gums, the dentist refers the patient to the relevant specialist.

Common questions regarding a toothache

1-What is the first aid for a toothache at home?

Gargling with salt water or saline water can be helpful. Also, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs like Gelofen and Ibuprofen may temporarily relieve the toothache at home.

2-How to control a toothache at night?

Take a proper painkiller and put your head on a high pillow so that your head is a little above your body. Avoid eating acid dinners, cold or hard foods before going to bed. Cleanse your mouth with a mouthwash or salt and water.

3-Is saline an effective treatment for a toothache?

Gargling with saline can help relieve the toothache and its subsequent inflammation. It can also destroy all bacteria and treat the problems of dental plaque and gum bleeding. So, this solution is of no use in the absolute treatment of a toothache and can only relieve the toothache’s symptoms.

4-What is the best painkiller for a toothache?

An anti-inflammatory painkiller like ibuprofen is regarded as one of the most effective drugs in the temporary control of a toothache. If you are allergic to this drug and aspirins, you can take paracetamol for relieving your toothache temporarily. However, repeatedly taking painkillers is a drug overdose and should highly be avoided. Not only would it affect you physically, but may lead to death.

Dr Abdolreza Jamilian Orthodontist

About Dr Abdolreza Jamilian Orthodontist

Dr. Jamilian, an orthodontist, has a specialized fellowship in orthodontic surgery and maxillofacial abnormalities and is a professor in the orthodontics department of the Dentistry School of the Islamic Azad University. He is member of Iranian and European Board of Orthodontics (EBO) and is a member of the Iranian, American and European Orthodontists Association.

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