Toothache, also known as dental pain, is pain in the teeth or their supporting structures, caused by dental diseases or pain referred to the teeth by non-dental diseases. When severe it may impair sleep, eating, and other daily activities.
An Overview of Toothaches
Whether it’s sharp and sudden or dull and constant, tooth pain is hard to ignore. A toothache or tooth pain is caused when the nerve in the root of a tooth or surrounding a tooth is irritated. Dental (tooth) infection, decay, injury, or loss of a tooth are the most common causes of dental pain. Pain may also occur after an extraction (tooth is pulled out). Pain sometimes originates from other areas and radiates to the jaw, thus appearing to be tooth pain. The most common areas include the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ), ear pain, sinuses, and even occasional heart problems.
Bacteria growing inside your mouth can contribute to gum disease and dental decay, both of which can cause pain. Often, gum disease will not result in any pain.
You can prevent the majority of dental problems by flossing, brushing with fluoride-free toothpaste, and having your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year. The dentist may apply sealants, which are especially important for children’s teeth.
Globally, it is estimated that 2.3 billion people suffer from caries of permanent teeth and more than 530 million children suffer from caries of primary teeth. In most low- and middle-income countries, with increasing urbanization and changes in living conditions, the prevalence of oral diseases continues to increase.25 Mar 2020.
It is reported that approximately 400 million people suffered from some form of oral disease in the WHO African Region in 2017.
Causes of toothaches in Cameroon
Toothache occurs from inflammation of the central portion of the tooth called pulp. The pulp contains nerve endings that are very sensitive to pain. Inflammation to the pulp or pulpitis may be caused by dental cavities, trauma, and infection. Referred pain from the jaw may cause you to have symptoms of a toothache. The first step toward relief is to find out what’s wrong.
Could It Be Sensitive Teeth?
If your teeth are healthy, a hard outer layer of enamel covers them to protect the nerves inside. The enamel can wear away over time. When the middle layer of your tooth is exposed, anything you eat or drink can reach your nerve endings.
Gum disease or Bleeding Gums can make your teeth sensitive. Your gums shrink away from your teeth, and that exposes the roots. You also can damage your gums if you brush too hard.
A recent cleaning or a new filling may make you sensitive for a few weeks. Many people feel it after whitening treatments. An old filling that’s loose or damaged can cause it, too.
Could It Be a Damaged Tooth?
Your teeth come under attack every time you eat. Bacteria cling to them until you brush them away. They produce acid, which makes the holes in your enamel called cavities.
Or you could have a crack in a tooth that’s exposed the sensitive inner layers. Maybe you bit down on a cherry pit or were hit in the face during softball.
A cavity or a crack can cause sharp pain and make your mouth sensitive when you bite down. The longer the pain lingers, the more serious the damage is likely to be.
If it’s deep enough, a cavity or crack can let bacteria into the inner layer, called pulp, of your tooth. The pulp can become infected, and that can lead to a buildup of pus called an abscess. The infection can spread to tissue and bone, too.
Do You Grind Your Teeth?
This is a common problem brought on by stress, sleep disorders, or a bite issue. If you grind your teeth while you sleep, it can wear away your enamel and even cause a crack.
Could It Be Your Wisdom Teeth?
Teething hurts whether you’re a baby or an adult. You’re likely to feel it when your wisdom teeth start to push through your gums. Food can get stuck under the gum and cause decay and infection.
Could the Problem Be Outside Your Mouth?
Your teeth may hurt because of an issue somewhere else in your body. That’s called referred pain. It can come from:
- Certain kinds of headaches, like cluster and migraine
- Clogged or infected sinuses
- Problems in the joint or muscles that connect your jaw to your skull
In rare cases, a heart attack can cause tooth pain. It’s also a symptom of certain nerve diseases.
Toothache and jaw pain are common complaints. There may be severe pain to pressure, or to hot or cold stimuli. The pain may persist for longer than 15 seconds after the stimulus is removed. As the area of inflammation increases, the pain becomes more severe. It may radiate to the cheek, the ear, or the jaw. Other signs and symptoms that may lead you to seek care include the following:
- Pain with chewing in your teeth or jaw
- Your teeth are sensitive to heat or cold. You’ll feel a couple seconds of pain when something hot or cold hits them. Sweet or acidic foods may bother you, too.
- Bleeding or discharge from around a tooth or gums
- Swelling around a tooth or swelling of your jaw
- Injury or trauma to the area
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Swollen glands
These signs and symptoms may sometimes be associated with dental decay, tooth fracture, or gum disease (periodontal disease). Dental decay or an area of redness around the tooth’s gum line may point to the source of pain. If you tap an infected tooth, it may make the pain more intense. This sign may point to the problem tooth even if the tooth appears normal.
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What are the Complications of Tooth Pain?
The complications of tooth pain may include:
- Dental abscess
- Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis
- Submandibular Space Infection
- These complications are rare and are a result of an untreated maxillary dental infection.
Why is Toothache worse at night?
The main reason why toothaches are more painful at night is our sleeping position. Laying down causes more blood rush to our heads, putting extra pressure on sensitive areas, such as our mouths. We don’t feel that throbbing sensation as much during the day because we’re mostly standing or sitting.
How do I know if my toothache is serious?
- You have a toothache that lasts longer than 1 or 2 days.
- Your toothache is severe.
- You have a fever, earache, or pain upon opening your mouth wide.
What is the first aid for toothache?
How long will a toothache last?
In some people, the pain may last up to 7 days. However, prompt treatment can reduce the pain faster. If the socket dressing is not effective, or the pain persists for longer than a few days, a dentist may reevaluate to see if another condition is responsible for the pain.