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When to Take Toothaches Seriously

2017/10/31   |   Back to News


Nearly everyone will experience a toothache at some point or another. While many toothaches can be easily managed at home, others will require immediate attention. Knowing when to see the dentist is challenging for many people, which is why we would like to offer you the following advice.

Common Causes of Toothaches

Toothaches typically indicate an underlying dental condition, usually tooth decay. Tooth decay can cause an inflammation in the center, which is where most of the nerves lie. This can lead to a dull, aching feeling or a sharp, stabbing pain that becomes worse whenever you bite down on something. In some cases, your teeth may hurt constantly or even throb.

Other causes of toothaches include:

  • A wearing away of tooth enamel
  • Gum infections
  • Chipped, cracked, or damaged teeth
  • A loose filling or dental crown
  • Tooth trauma
  • Inflamed wisdom teeth
  • Bruxism or grinding the teeth at night
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ)

At-Home Remedies

At the first sign of a toothache, you should take an over-the-counter medication containing ibuprofen or acetaminophen to alleviate your discomfort and help bring down swelling. Some patients also find it soothing to rinse their mouths several times each day with warm salt water. Food particles that become lodged between the teeth can sometimes make toothaches worse, which is why you should continue to brush and floss as normal.

Other measures you may take include:

  • Applying a heating pad to the outside of your cheek, particularly when sleeping
  • Using an antiseptic gel on your gums (such as the type used for teething infants)
  • Eating only soft foods, and avoiding hot, cold, or spicy ones
  • Chewing on the opposite side of your mouth

When Should I see the Dentist?

In many cases, conventional treatment is all that is needed to eliminate your toothache. Other times, you may have no other choice but to contact our office. Please do not delay coming in if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe dental pain that is not affected by the use of over-the-counter medication
  • Frequent, recurring toothaches
  • Fever of greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Headache
  • Bleeding from the mouth, teeth, or gums (with the exception of light bleeding right after brushing or flossing)
  • An earache or shooting pains in the ear when opening and closing your mouth

If you notice these symptoms after hours, please visit the emergency room of your closest hospital. An emergency room visit is also warranted if you suffer trauma to the face or mouth. Should a toothache occur during normal business hours, call our office at once and you will be given further instructions. Same-day appointments are often available.

Toothaches are no fun, regardless of whether they only happen one time or are an ongoing problem. Here at Bright Dentistry, our goal is to get to the bottom of things quickly, diagnosing the cause of your toothache and then coming up with a plan to eliminate the problem as soon as possible. Should you be bothered by a toothache, do not hesitate to contact us.

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