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How to treat a toothache

Having a toothache is a painful experience that can interfere with your daily life. Although it might seem like a mild discomfort, it can quickly evolve into severe pain, strong enough to make you require painkillers and pay an emergency visit to your dentist. Luckily, dentistry has evolved throughout time, resulting in new materials and techniques development. Furthermore, allowing dentists to efficiently treat what is causing your toothache and ease the pain almost immediately.

How to treat a tooth ache

Why does toothache occur?

Your teeth possess a soft tissue called dental pulp inside of them. This tissue is filled with micro blood vessels and nerves, and its primary function is to supply nutrients to the teeth. However, the pulp is highly vulnerable, and external stimuli such as injuries, cavities, and trauma can cause it to inflamed and trigger a painful reaction. Furthermore, the severity of the inflammation and toothache is often proportional to the severity of the lesion causing it. Some of the lesions that can cause toothache include:

Cavities and fillings

In their early stages, cavities do not produce any discomfort. However, as it progresses and reaches deeper tooth layers, the pulp gets swollen due to its proximity with the lesion, turning into a toothache. Moreover, cavities can form under damaged fillings, even if it is just a tiny and indistinguishable crack. As a result, they can cause toothache even if the tooth appears healthy outside.


Dental abscesses are a type of infection associated with the tooth’s roots. They usually develop after the pulp dies from a heavy trauma or an extensive cavity. A dental abscess can cause pain and affect the bone surrounding the root. Moreover, it can also cause fever.

Dental root exposure

Exposed roots due to gums recession or periodontitis can lead to hypersensitivity and toothache. The tissue covering the roots is more porous than the enamel. Therefore, the pulp will be more susceptible to external stimuli.

Bruxism and trauma

Bruxism is the involuntary act of teeth grinding. People who suffer from it do it while sleeping usually. Although it may appear harmless, bruxism puts heavy compressive forces on the teeth that can eventually affect the pulp. Moreover, direct trauma can harm the pulp and even cause it to die and produce an infection.

Treatments for toothache

The treatment for the toothache is determined by the reason behind it. Although the pain you have is mild, it is essential to seek professional attention as soon as possible. Fortunately, the treatment is less invasive when the cause is treated at early stages. Also, taking over-the-counter pain medications can help you ease the pain until the proper treatment is applied.

The most common treatments for toothache include procedures such as:

Dental restorations

Dental restorations are the standard procedures to alleviate toothache in most scenarios. They are performed in cases of cavities and fractures. The dentist makes sure to eliminate the decayed tissue and then restore the cavity with filling material, such as composite or amalgam. Nonetheless, in some cases, the injury is too extensive, and the dentist may require to restore the tooth with a crown. These prosthetic restorations cover the whole tooth to protect it and restore its function and aesthetic.

Furthermore, when the cause of the toothache is a damaged restoration, the dentist can choose between replacing it with a new one or fixing only the damaged portion.

Root canals

It is a treatment used to prevent infections or eliminate them once they are present. Root canals consist in drilling a hole to remove the pulp and then disinfecting the inside of the tooth and filling it with a specialized material called gutta-percha. This allows your dentist to eliminate the infection, and since the pulp is removed, the tooth immediately stops aching. A root canal may be needed even if there is no infection if the pulp is damaged beyond repair.

Tooth extraction

If the tooth lesion is too extensive and there are no viable treatment options, a tooth extraction needs to be performed. Removing the tooth will eliminate the cause of the pain. However, you may feel some discomfort after extraction that could last for a few days. Nonetheless, it will quickly dissipate as the wound starts to heal. Tooth extractions are performed under local anesthesia to prevent any pain and discomfort throughout the process. Moreover, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help eliminate any infection and improve the healing.

Toothache prevention

Protecting your teeth is the only way to prevent toothache. Having good oral health is essential in avoiding unexpected dental emergency visits and the discomfort of a toothache. Some prevention methods include:
Brush and floss: Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once will keep your teeth free of cavities and prevent toothache. Wear a mouthguard: If you play any contact sport, make sure to wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from trauma and prevent fractures and chipping.