Tooth pain, commonly known as toothache, occurs when the nerve in the root of a particular tooth or the nerve surrounding it is irritated. This may occur when there is tooth infection (dental infection), a decay of the tooth, and injury to the mouth or loss of a tooth. The pain can also be felt after an extraction (a tooth is being pulled out). The degree or intensity of the pain varies from mildly uncomfortable to the feeling of excruciating pain. The pain may sometimes originate from other areas and then radiates to the jaw when it is concentrated. These areas include the temporomandibular joint or the jaw joint, the ear and the sinuses.
Toothache causes can be classified into two; dental causes and non-dental causes. Dental causes of tooth pain include broken or chipped teeth, cavities, gum disease, gingivitis, and periodontitis. Non-dental causes are causes of tooth pain not related to the tooth and they include; sinus pain or sinus infection, jaw pain, ear pain, facial pain, and some heart-related diseases.
The severity of pain depends on the area of inflammation in the mouth. If the area of inflammation is wide, then the pain will be very severe. The pain may radiate to the cheek, ear or jaw. The signs or symptoms include pain when chewing, increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods, bleeding in the gum or teeth and inflammation around the tooth or jaw.
An appointment should be made with the doctor or dentist when the pain is not relieved by OTC (over-the-counter) drugs when severe pain is experienced after tooth extraction, when there is discharge in the gum or tooth and when there is severe pain around the angle of the jaw. Third molars, commonly called wisdom teeth, can also cause pain when they are erupting from the gum.
Maintain a healthy diet, brush the teeth after eating, go for regular dental check-ups, quit smoking, avoid injury to the mouth and prevent tooth decay by using fluoride (fluorinated waters or fluorine supplements).