Toothache is the most common type of orofacial pain and, when severe, it is considered a dental emergency, since there may be a significant impact on sleep, eating, and other daily activities. It is one of the most common reasons for emergency dental appointments. Correct diagnosis can sometimes be challenging. The treatment of a toothache depends upon the exact cause, and may involve a filling, root canal treatment, extraction, drainage of pus, or other remedial action. The relief of toothache is considered one of the main responsibilities of dentists. Historically, the demand for treatment of toothache is thought to have led to the emergence of dental surgery as the first specialty of medicine.
When Should I See a Dentist About a Toothache?
See your dentist as soon as possible about your toothache if:
- 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
- Proper identification and treatment of dental infections is important to prevent its spread to other parts of the face and skull and possibly even to the bloodstream.
What Treatments Are Available for a Toothache?
Treatment for a toothache depends on the cause. If a cavity is causing the toothache, your dentist will fill the cavity or possibly extract the tooth, if necessary. A root canal might be needed if the cause of the toothache is determined to be an infection of the tooth's nerve. Bacteria that have worked their way into the inner aspects of the tooth cause such an infection. An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is fever or swelling of the jaw. Phototherapy with a cold laser may be used to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with the toothache.