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How Do You Make a Toothache Go Away?

“Anyone can die of a toothache,” said Florida State Representative John Cortes in a Health Innovation Subcommittee meeting in January 2016. His words were not empty words – there was a time in history that dental infections and other tooth-related problems took the fifth or sixth leading cause of death in London.

What is a Toothache?

A toothache is a pain in the teeth and their supporting structures that may be due to dental problems or reflective pain to the teeth due to other diseases.

It can be an indication of a possible infection or inflammation. Toothaches may feature a dull ache or sharp pain, resulting in the tooth’s sensitivity.

What Causes a Toothache?

  • Tooth fracture
  • Infected gums
  • Damaged filling
  • An abscessed tooth
  • Bruxism
  • Traumatic injury
  • Tooth decay

Usually, the symptoms of a toothache include sharp, throbbing, and constant tooth pain. It may also feature swelling of the tooth’s surrounding areas, fever or a headache, or foul-tasting drainage from the infected tooth.

What are other Common Causes of Facial Pain?

Abscessed Tooth: This condition is a painful infection in between the tooth and gum or an infection at the tooth’s root. It is normally caused by severe tooth decay. Meanwhile, other causes are trauma to the tooth due to gum disease, a chipped tooth, or a broken tooth.

Burning Mouth Syndrome: This condition describes an excruciating sensation of the palate, lips or tongue which may also include a general sensation of discomfort in the entire mouth. Damaged nerves are said to cause burning mouth syndrome. However, there are also times when the reason for this condition is unknown.

Cluster Headache: A cluster headache is one of the most painful types of headaches. This typically wakes a person in the middle of the night due to excruciating pain in or around one of their eyes. A red, watery eye; a runny nose; or nasal congestion are also common with a cluster headache. Cluster headaches may last for a few weeks to months, commonly followed by remission periods. This refers to a recurrent trembling headache which typically affects one side of the head and is frequently accompanied by disturbed vision and nausea.

Tic Douloureux: Also known as trigeminal neuralgia, this is known as a stabbing, severe pain on one side of the face. This starts from one or more nerve branches that support the feeling and motor functions of the face.

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) Syndrome: TMJ is a problem that affects the joints and chewing muscles between the base of the skull and the lower jaw. It is also otherwise known as myofascial pain disorder. This condition is not usually serious. However, its symptoms include difficulty eating, jaw joint popping or clicking, and pain that generally lasts for a few months before it subsides. For some people, however, TMJ is consistent whereas it may only come about in periods of emotional stress.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) or Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex Infection): Shingles is typically caused by a virus known as the varicella-zoster. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. A person who had been afflicted with chickenpox may also develop shingles. Even long after a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can penetrate the nervous system and then remain dormant for several years. Later, this may reactivate and sail along the nerve pathways of the skin, producing shingles.

Sinus Infection or Sinusitis: Sinusitis pertains to the inflammation of the nasal passages and sinuses. This condition can cause pressure in the areas of the cheeks, nose, eyes, and/or the forehead.

An individual suffering from a sinus infection can also suffer from fever, cough, bad breath, sore throat, and nasal congestion that comes with thick nasal secretions. A sinus infection can be sudden onset (acute) or long-term (chronic).

How to Stop Tooth Pain at Home?

  • Garlic. Mix garlic powder or crushed garlic with black or table salt, and apply the mixture directly to the affected area. You can also chew one or two cloves of garlic. Garlic contains antibiotic and other medicinal properties that are used for pain relief.
  • Warm salt water. Mix a teaspoon of table salt with a glass of hot water. Use the mixture to rinse your mouth. This remedy can reduce inflammation and swelling and help combat bacteria.
  • Pepper and salt. Mix equal amounts of common salt and pepper with a few drops of water. The combined ingredients will then form a gritty paste. Use the paste by applying it directly to the affected area, and let it sit for a few minutes. Pepper and salt contain anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and analgesic properties.
  • Onions. Chew a raw onion, or put a piece of it on the affected area to reduce the pain. Onions have antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.
  • Cloves. Grind two whole cloves, and mix it with a small amount of vegetable or olive oil. Directly apply the mixture on the affected area or dab a cotton ball in the mixture and rub it on the infected area. You may also mix a few drops of the mixture in a half glass of water and use it to rinse your mouth. Cloves contain antibacterial, anesthetic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties which are helpful in combating infection and reducing pain.

My Child has a Toothache. What Should I Do?

There’s nothing remotely fun about having a toothache. But if adult toothaches are bad, it’s worse for children. According to Gulur et al., children have a “more profound inflammatory response” to pain than adults do as they do not have a “central inhibitory response.” This lack, then, makes things like toothache much more unbearable than it typically is.

When your child has a toothache, it’s typically a warning sign of something more. Pain happens when tooth decay hits the pulp chamber. The dental pulp inside a tooth contains blood vessels and nerves, so once compromised, it becomes sensitive to the pain. Aside from this, however, a toothache can arise for other reasons, such as:

  • Stuck food particles. When food gets stuck where it shouldn’t be, it can jam itself between the teeth over time. This action could then irritate the gums, prompting a toothache.
  • Cracked or chipped teeth. Aside from tooth decay, chips in the teeth could also trigger a pain response if it reaches the pulp chamber.
  • Loosened dental fillings. If a dental filling gets loose or taken off, it can leave your teeth vulnerable to bacteria or foreign particles. When they enter the sealed-off area, it could trigger it.
  • Growing teeth. Sometimes toothache might not come from an infected tooth. At times, the pain comes from the irritation of a developing tooth, especially in younger kids.

Toothache is usually common in children who eat a lot of sugar in their food, as this helps unhealthy oral bacteria eat away at the tooth enamel. Giving your kids healthy food for their teeth, then, is an excellent way to prevent toothaches from flaring up. But what do you do if your child already has one?

Keep the Pain Down as Much as Possible

No good parent wants their child to suffer. Easing the pain is the utmost priority, particularly when it comes to toothache.

When a toothache occurs, the gums and the surrounding areas may get tender. To ease this, most professionals recommend having your child gargle a glass of warm saltwater. Make sure that the rinse is not too cold or too hot. If your child’s cheek is also affected, you may opt to use an ice pack to control the swelling. For quicker pain relief, you can also purchase child-friendly painkillers from your nearest pharmacy.

Bring Your Child to the Nearest Pediatric Dentist

When, then, should you bring your child to the dentist? Answer: as soon as possible. While these measures may give relief for a while, it won’t last very long. If the toothache comes from any of the problems we listed above, immediate action can prevent the issue from worsening.

While these cases come far and away, there have been instances that an inadequately untreated toothache led to more severe complications, even death. But if the cause of the pain is relatively benign, it’s still best to take your child to the dentist to eliminate other causes. Fortunately, you won’t come short of pediatric dentists. Whether it’s in Kauai, Maui, Hilo, or Aiea, you’re sure to find a pediatric dentist to your liking.

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