Tooth pain no laughing matter
Different herbs. Ice. Rinsing with warm water. A piece of potato.
Folklore is replete with remedies to cure a toothache, but while any one of these measures may bring temporary relief to the pain, a visit to your dentist is probably the best strategy in the long run.
According to WebMD, a toothache usually occurs when the nerve at the root of a tooth becomes irritated. This irritation results when a tooth decays or becomes infected. More specifically, the pain occurs when the sensitive nerve endings in the central core of a tooth (the pulp) become inflamed either through cavities, infection or other trauma.
Usually, tooth decay or cavities are the common cause for a toothache, according to the website MedicineNet.com. Cavities occur when bacteria break down sugar in the mouth into acid, which then attacks the enamel and dentin layers that protect the sensitive areas inside the tooth. As the cavity deepens, food or other bacteria become trapped, irritating the pulp, leading to a toothache.
Following cavities as a major cause of toothaches is gum or periodontal disease. Here, toothaches result as the soft tissue surrounding a tooth becomes inflamed and bone loss that holds the tooth in place occurs. Bleeding from the gums is an early indicator of gum disease, which pain is indicative of a more advanced stage of the disease.
Other causes of toothaches, according to MedicineNet.com include:
•An infection, known as an abscess, near or at the side of the tooth.
•An impacted tooth, a situation where the tooth has not broken through the gum.
•Exposure of the tooth root.
•A cracked or broken tooth.
•Other health problems such as diabetes, viral infections or nerve-related diseases.
Often, the solution to a toothache may be as simple as rinsing the mouth to clear foods particles from between teeth or resulting to over-the-counter pain killers or other home remedies.
But most times, a toothache calls for a visit to the dentist, if the pain alone doesn't send you running that way.
According to WebMD, a dentist "may try an injection around the tooth for pain control. If there is swelling in the gums or face, or you have fever, antibiotics may be prescribed." Other treatments can include fillings, teeth extraction, or a root canal.
The Ben Franklin quote, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is particularly appropriate to toothache treatment. As any dentist will tell you, good oral hygiene and regular dental care will go a long way toward preventing problems in the future.
In addition, WebMD also makes the following recommendations:
•Follow or maintain a healthy diet.
•Use fluoride to prevent tooth decay.
•Have your teeth cleaned at least twice a year.
Doing so will help you avoid the possibly excruciating pain of a toothache and the expense of treating the condition.