A Guide to Toothache
Toothache is among the most common reasons patients visit an emergency dentist, with the more severe cases requiring urgent medical attention. Individuals who suffer from the throbbing pain on a regular basis may be surprised to hear that the issue is often completely preventable.
An effective oral hygiene routine can successfully rid the mouth of harmful bacteria that can cause a series of health issues, while significantly reducing the risk of toothache occurring. However, it is vital that members of the public are able to acquire the right techniques in order to successfully look after their smile.
Why does toothache occur?
Toothache is usually caused by decay within the teeth. This occurs as a result of bacteria found in plaque, which develops in the mouth on a daily basis. Although saliva can remove much of this harmful substance, it is simply inefficient in completely eradicating the risk of decay.
Common among people who eat large quantities of sugar and carbohydrates, the issue is brought on as a result of a reaction between bacteria and sugar, ending in a build-up of acid on the pearly whites.
If left untreated, this harmful substance can cause erosion on the protective layer of enamel that coats each tooth and create a cavity.
Many people could have a small hole in the enamel of their tooth and fail to realise it is there, which will not necessarily cause tooth decay. However, the problems begin as the cavity increases in size over time. As the decay eats away at the tooth, it will break through the enamel and reach the dentin, which lies inside the tooth under its protective layer.
Although the dentin is there to provide a second source of protection to the sensitive centre of the tooth, which contains nerve endings and blood supply, it is fairly simple for the decay to reach this area and cause serious damage.
The tooth will begin to ache when the cavity opens up the inner pulp of the tooth. By this point, there is little action a patient can take without booking an appointment to see an emergency dentist to prevent the issue worsening.
It is vital for individuals to visit their dental professional if this problem occurs, because letting the issue progress further could lead to serious damage and even increase the likelihood that the tooth will need to be removed.
Although it is not only cavities that cause toothache, they are the most common catalyst leading to the requirement of assistance from an emergency dentist because they can cause a serious infection. In this case, a build-up of pus can develop to form an abscess, which can be extremely painful and require immediate attention.
Can treatment be provided?
Dental professionals recommend patients make an appointment upon feeling the first twinge of toothache to prevent it from developing into a more serious issue and a nagging, constant pain.
Individuals suffering from this problem may find it difficult to concentrate on regular tasks, with the problem usually worsening until it becomes unbearable. It is also beneficial to see a dentist upon the first sign of toothache to limit the risk of tooth decay permanently damaging the tooth.
During the first appointment, a dental professional will identify which tooth is aching, as it is common for patients to feel as if the entirety of one side of their face is in pain.
Following this, the cavity will be examined to determine if it can be resolved with a simple filling procedure. However, it is necessary for the pearly white to be thoroughly cleaned out prior to this treatment to remove the signs of infection. This process may require the tooth to be drilled slightly deeper to identify the location of the cavity.
Most fillings carried out on cavities are amalgam fillings, which are usually black or charcoal in appearance and made from a mixture of various metals. Amalgam is a very durable substance and is commonly used for the molars at the back of the mouth as these teeth carry out the majority of chewing.
If a filling is installed nearer the front of the mouth, patients usually receive a more natural-looking solution due to the visibility of the teeth when smiling and talking. Although this system can be more expensive to carry out, it is highly recommended for image-conscious individuals who are worried about their appearance.
Some cases of tooth decay can result in the cavity splitting the tooth as a result of its weaker structure. When this occurs, it is more effective to consider an alternative solution to fillings as the issue in the tooth will then be much more series.
When decay has resulted in a tooth becoming structurally unsound, a patient may require the installation of a dental crown. This process involves drilling away the decay to shape the tooth so that it can accommodate the crown and provide a comfortable fit for the patient.
Held by cement, the dental crown protects the damaged tooth from further infection, while enabling the natural tooth to stay in place without the requirement for an extraction.
In instances where the decay reaches the inner pulp of the tooth, there is a possibility that the infection cannot be reversed. When this occurs, the pulp will need to be removed through root canal treatment, which involves the substance being scraped through the root of the tooth after drilling. Although this will result in a loss of blood supply and nerve endings within the pearly white, it can continue to function and removes the need for an extraction. In some cases, a dental professional will also place a crown on the tooth if it is vulnerable to additional infection.
How can the risk of decay be reduced?
When decay initially occurs, the need for professional treatment is inevitable. Therefore, preventative steps are vital to ensuring oral health is maintained and can ward off the early signs of a number of issues.
Although patients may be able to take a number of steps to ease the pain before they see an emergency dentist, the earlier an appointment is booked, the more chance they have of eradicating the problem and getting rid of the pain.
Applying an icepack to the side of the face that is the most uncomfortable is an effective method of pain relief, but it does not mean that the issue does not require urgent treatment. In addition, the use of over-the-counter painkillers can ease the discomfort for a short period of time, though they will not reverse the effects of decay.
Rubbing clove oil on the infected tooth and surrounding area can also provide relief for people suffering from tooth decay, while covering the cavity on a temporary basis using sugar free gum or a piece of dental wax can be effective until it is possible to visit an emergency dentist.
In order to prevent the onset of tooth decay, individuals should ensure they brush their teeth twice every day, while flossing after every meal if possible. This will help to reduce the build-up of harmful substances on the teeth, with fluoride toothpaste providing the best solution for protecting enamel.
Flossing is the key to removing trapped food and plaque from areas of the mouth that are almost impossible to reach during brushing. This process will also strengthen the gums, while preventing the onset of gum disease.
Previous research has revealed that individuals who floss on a regular basis can reduce their risk of developing a number of wider, more serious health conditions including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease, as well as preventing a stroke.
Visiting the dentist for regular check-ups is also vital in making sure oral health is maintained for as long as possible. Waiting until the onset of toothache before visiting a professional could increase the chances of developing more serious conditions.
The practice is open Seven days a week from 8am to 11pm for routine dentistry and we offer a 24 hour emergency dental walk-in service 365 days a year. You can book a consultation at any time by calling our reception team 24 hours a day on 0208 547 9997 or contact us during our working hours by email.