What to Do When You Have a Toothache
Are you experiencing the unique and unpleasant feeling of dental pain? If so, we sympathize wholeheartedly. A toothache can rob you of your ability to eat or sleep, and force you to put your entire life on hold. You wanted to enjoy your hot coffee this morning? Sorry, toothache says no. You wanted to enjoy a lunch at your favorite restaurant? Sorry, toothache won’t let you! Even sleeping at night can become impossible if a toothache is severe enough.
Sometimes painkillers can deliver brief periods of relief, but the bottom line is this: toothaches never go away on their own. Even an intermittent toothache is guaranteed to come back at some point (and hit hard) if you don’t see a dentist.
Call Us and Tell Us About Your Problem Tooth
When you call River Birch Dental, we’ll want to hear about your symptoms in order to schedule you properly. If your toothache comes and goes and your life is mostly livable, we’ll schedule for an urgent appointment, so you can be seen within a couple of days. If your toothache has become so painful that it’s interfering with your ability to do your job and live your life, we’ll try to get you a same-day emergency appointment. We don’t want anyone to suffer even a minute longer than necessary, so let us know how severe your problem is.
Self-Care While You Wait for Your Appointment
The first thing you should do when you experience a toothache is brush and floss the tooth carefully. with If you have a cavity, a piece of food may be irritating it and making the pain worse. Cleaning the tooth may reduce your pain somewhat.
There are several things you can do to alleviate your pain while you wait for treatment.
- Take over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Do not exceed the recommended dosage.
- Rinse the mouth with warm salt water. A salt-water rinse can help alleviate oral pain and may remove food debris from a cavity.
- Hold an ice pack against your cheek. Fill an ice pack (or use a bag of frozen peas) and wrap it in a towel. Apply it directly over the source of the pain. Do not put ice inside your mouth, however. This can harm your teeth or gum tissues.
- Avoid any foods that require biting or chewing. Eat only soft, room-temperature foods that won’t get stuck in the teeth. This will help you avoid agitating the tooth until your appointment.
- Apply a small amount of eugenol to the tooth. Eugenol is a natural anesthetic made from clove oil, and many patients claim it can numb a painful tooth. It can be found at most drug stores, sometimes in a “toothache kit.” Use only a very small amount, applied to the tooth with a cotton bud.
If you are experiencing facial swelling and fever along with your toothache, call us immediately or visit an urgent medical care facility as soon as possible. A swollen cheek means the infection has spread to the gum tissue and created an abscess. A fever means that the infection has spread from the tooth and may be putting your whole body at risk of a systemic infection. This can become a life-threatening condition if not treated promptly.
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore a Toothache
Whether it’s a throbbing sensation, shooting pain, or dull ache—a toothache is never a good sign. In order to understand why, you need to understand the anatomy of your tooth. The white part of the tooth that’s visible above the gums is called the enamel, and it feels no sensations whatsoever. Below that is the dentin, and inside the dentin is the pulp chamber. The nerve endings in your teeth are located in the pulp chamber, but reach out and up into the dentin. This means that any pain you feel is happening either inside the tooth or in the root of the tooth.
The toothache may be caused by a cavity that has reached deep enough to hit the dentin or pulp. It could also be a deep crack in the tooth. If the pain is in a tooth that already has had a filling or other restoration, you may need to have it replaced to fix the problem. Sometimes gum recession reveals root surfaces, which are more sensitive than enamel. Even if your pain is being caused by a particle of food stuck between the tooth and the gum—if it’s deep enough to cause pain, you may need help getting it out. No matter what’s causing your pain, you need a dentist to help you fix the problem.
In many cases, a cavity is responsible for the pain you feel. Teeth do not self-heal once they’ve sustained a cavity, and the only way to restore it is with a filling and/or root canal therapy. Neglect a toothache long enough, however, and you may have too much damage for us to be able to save it. In those cases, a tooth extraction is the only solution. The sooner you make an appointment, the better our chances of saving the tooth!
If you are experiencing a toothache, call River Birch Dental at 715-646-2161. We’ll fix your tooth and end your pain. Call today to arrange a next-available appointment or emergency appointment in our Centuria, WI dental office.