What Causes a Toothache?

Do you have pain in your tooth? Toothaches can happen suddenly or develop over time, and they may be an intermittent or constant pain. Finding out why your tooth hurts can be the key to making the pain go away.

Some of the most common reasons for toothache are:

Tooth decay

If you don't take good care of your teeth, bacteria can build up on their surfaces and form a sticky film called plaque. This bacteria converts sugar in food and drink into acids that slowly wear away tooth enamel to cause cavities, often accompanied by toothache.

Tooth decay can usually be prevented by following good oral hygiene. If you already have a cavity, your dentist can place a white filling or other restoration to restore the tooth's shape and function.

Cracked tooth

Teeth are the strongest part of the body, but they can still be damaged if you bite something hard or receive an injury. A cracked tooth may feel painful or more sensitive to hot and cold.

Your dentist may repair a damaged tooth by placing a dental crown over the top to restore its strength and appearance. Wearing a mouthguard when playing sport can lower your risk of dental injuries.

Tooth pulp infection

A severe and persistent toothache and sensitive teeth can be signs of an infected tooth. This happens when bacteria gets through cracks in the tooth to reach the soft tissues in the centre (the pulp) where the nerves are.

Dentists usually recommend root canal therapy (endodontic treatment) to treat an infected tooth. This involves removing the infected tissue and replacing it with a synthetic material, then sealing the tooth with a custom crown.

Tooth abscess

An infection around the roots of teeth can lead to a dental abscess. This can cause severe toothache and can even lead to tooth loss if it's left untreated.

Depending on how far a dental abscess has progressed, your dentist may treat it with a root canal, an incision to drain the abscess, or a course of antibiotics to stop the infection from spreading. If tooth roots have already been too badly damaged, the tooth may need to be extracted.

How do you ease a toothache?

If you're worried about a toothache, you should make an appointment to see your dentist so they can try to diagnose and treat the root of the problem. Your dentist may also recommend ways to relieve the pain, including:

  • taking over-the-counter painkillers
  • placing an ice pack or cold compress on your cheek to relieve pain and swelling
  • improving your oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily
  • avoiding hard and chewy foods
  • avoiding very hot or cold food and drink
  • sleeping with your head elevated on the pillow
  • holding salt water in your mouth for two minutes
  • not smoking
  • keeping up with your scheduled dental visits

Talk to a dentist in Auckland

Do you have a toothache, or is it time for your check-up and clean? Get in touch with our team at St Heliers Dental Centre to schedule an appointment at a time that's good for you.

Call our Auckland dentists on (09) 575 5814 or book an appointment online.