Overdoing it in the garden can make your back ache the next day, and joining a pick-up game of basketball can give you sore muscles in places where you never knew you had them. But when a toothache comes along, it’s not so easy to suss out the cause.
Without knowing the underlying reason, you’re left to guess about how serious it is and whether you should grin and bear it or call a dentist.
That’s why our team here at Le Dentistry in Norcross, Georgia, has put together this brief guide to help you determine what’s behind your tooth pain and when you need to come see us. Dr. Phuong Le and Dr. Uyen Hoang have many years of experience diagnosing and treating a wide range of dental issues, and we can help you resolve your tooth pain and restore your oral health.
Here’s what you need to know about toothaches.
Know the possible causes of toothaches
Tooth pain is a common symptom shared by multiple oral issues, so it may be difficult to pinpoint the cause on your own. But when you’re trying to decide whether to self-treat, schedule a dental appointment, or rush to the emergency room, it’s important to know the possible cause of your toothache so you can narrow it down. The most common culprits include:
- Impacted or erupting wisdom teeth
- Gum irritation
- Gingivitis or periodontitis
- Abscess of the tooth or gums
- Tooth decay or cavities
- Lost filling or crown
- Tooth damage (broken, chipped, or cracked)
- Worn enamel due to bruxism (teeth grinding)
Most of these issues require professional dental attention. Except for minor gum irritation that may be caused by stuck food or aggressive brushing or flossing, you likely need dental treatment to prevent further damage and worsening pain.
Some dental issues can wait until your next appointment, and some need emergency dental care, but because the cause often lies beneath the surface of your teeth and gums, the only way to know for sure is to come in for a thorough exam.
At-home remedies for minor toothache pain
If your toothache is a minor annoyance rather than an excruciating pain, investigate what may be causing it. You may have a corn husk stuck between your teeth from last night’s popcorn snack. Gently brush and floss your teeth to unwedge any particles.
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to kill bacteria and soothe sore gums.
Try over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to ease your discomfort.
Place a cold compress on your cheek near the painful area to reduce inflammation and pain.
Use a topical oral pain reliever to temporarily numb the painful tooth.
If these remedies don’t resolve your toothache, it’s time to come see us.
Follow your toothache symptoms
When deciding what to do about your toothache, a good rule of thumb is to “listen” to your teeth. By that we mean pay attention to the type of pain, the severity, what makes it worse, and what relieves it. These are important clues and can help you seek the appropriate level of care.
For example, a cracked tooth causes pain that comes and goes when you chew, and gets worse when you eat or drink foods that are hot or cold. A bacterial infection of the gums or inner tooth (pulp) can spread to the rest of your body through your bloodstream and cause coinciding health issues.
Drs. Hoang and Le recommend you schedule an urgent appointment for any pain that:
- You can’t ignore
- Hangs on for more than two days
- Makes it hard to open your mouth
- Is accompanied by swelling in your mouth or face
- Coincides with other symptoms, such as earache, fever, foul odor, or drainage
- Doesn’t get better with over-the-counter pain medications
- Gets progressively worse
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact us right away; we can help you decide whether you’re facing a dental emergency or just need the next available appointment.
If you have a toothache and need expert help, we’re here for you. Call us at 678-252-9881 Monday through Saturday to schedule an appointment.