February 3, 2010

Taking a Look at Toothaches

Most people have experienced a toothache at some point in their lives. The causes, though, vary widely. That is why a dentist should see a toothache that will not go away to try to find its cause.

Common Causes of Toothaches

Some of the most common causes of toothaches are tooth decay, gum disease, bruxism (habitual grinding of the teeth), and oral infection. Those with tooth decay or gum disease may feel an ache in a tooth when they eat hot or colds foods. They may also have some tooth pain if they eat sweet foods.

Pus near the ache may be a sign of an abscessed tooth. The abscess may have an effect on nearby bone. On the other hand, pus may be sign of gum disease, in which case the tissue around the tooth may be inflamed.

If these types of symptoms go with breathing problems, fever, or a noxious discharge, see a dentist right away. If a tooth has been chipped or knocked out, visit the dentist or go to the ER at once.

How to Manage Toothache Pain

If you do not have a dental emergency but have a toothache, you can do a few things to ease the pain before you see your dentist. For instance, you could take an over-the-counter painkiller. Do not to allow it to contact the gums near the toothache, though, as this may burn them.

Another way to help ease the pain is to swab the gums around the sore tooth with either benzocaine (which may be bought over the counter) or clove oil. It is also a good idea to use warm salt water to rinse the mouth. Also, remove any bits of food that may be lodged between the teeth by gentle flossing.

Toothache Prevention: Dental Hygiene is the Key

The best way to avoid a toothache is through good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day to reduce dental plaque build-up. (Plaque is the main cause of tooth decay and gum disease.) Be sure to brush all the parts of your teeth: inner, outer, and the parts used to chew.

Of equal importance is the use of floss each day. This cleans plaque and bits of food out from between the teeth where it is hard to reach with a brush. Flossing is also a key to preventing gum disease. Gently floss all the way up to the part of each tooth where it meets the gum line.

Lastly, regular trips to see the dentist are a basic part of good oral hygiene. Dentists can give you more information ways to fight plaque and prevent tooth decay.