Toothache emergency: What should you do?

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Whether you have a hot date or family event to attend in Atlanta, nothing can make you reconsider your...

Whether you have a hot date or family event to attend in Atlanta, nothing can make you reconsider your plans faster than an aching tooth. There are some first-aid remedies to use to stop your toothache from getting worse and also ways to prevent one in the first place. Common causes of this type of tooth problem are an abscess, tooth decay, filling damage and tooth fracture.

Unfortunately, there's nothing common about the pain. With an aching tooth, you can experience pain that is strong enough to make you cry. The pain is not only throbbing but a sharp, constant pain. It can happen whether you apply pressure on the tooth or not. Your gum surrounding your tooth probably is swollen even if you don't have an abscess tooth. There are some nasty side effects of an aching tooth including a headache, foul-tasting tooth drainage and a fever.

Self-care tips for tooth pain

While you're waiting for your dentist appointment, you want to complete a series of tasks to stop the pain. Rinse your mouth out with warm water. Remove any food particles, debris or plaque stuck between your teeth using dental floss. It helps to remove anything causing pressure on your aching tooth.

Of course, you want to take an over-the-counter (OTC) medication to relieve pain. To temporarily relieve the throbbing pain in your tooth, use an OTC antiseptic. The antiseptic should contain benzocaine. However, using products containing benzocaine does come with a warning. You don't want to use too much because it can decrease the amount of oxygen in your blood. Also, if you have a child younger than two years old, avoid using benzocaine. The product can have serious side effects.

If you do not want to use an OTC antiseptic, apply eugenol, or oil of cloves, directly to your tooth. This can help relieve the pain. Only place the eugenol or OTC antiseptic directly to your tooth or gums. Sometimes people apply a painkiller like aspirin directly to their tooth either in liquid or capsule form.

For example, if the tooth is broken, some people insert an aspirin into the tooth cavity. You don't want to place a painkiller, even aspirin, directly on your gums. It may burn gum tissue and cause more pain.

These self-care tips can help relieve your pain. Sometimes the aching tooth may stop on its own. Other times it can become worse. Whenever you recognize these worsening signs, it's time to call your Atlanta dentist. These signs include the following:

  • Pain that persists and becomes worse for more than two days
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Trouble breathing
  • Signs of infection such red gums, swelling, pain when eating or discharge
  • An earache

Before treating your tooth, your dentist will usually take your medical history and conduct a physical examination. During the exam, he or she checks your teeth, jaws, gums, sinuses, ears, neck, nose and throat to make sure there are no other problems causing the pain in your tooth. She or he will ask questions about the pain and its severity.

It's imperative to contact your dentist if the tooth doesn't improve. When you develop an infection in your tooth, it can travel to your bloodstream, face or skull. Whenever this happens your simple aching tooth can become life threatening.

Treatment for your aching tooth depends on the cause. Your dentist may fill the tooth cavity or extract the tooth. If there is an infection in the tooth's nerve, your dentist may recommend a root canal. You'll receive antibiotics if you have a fever, swelling in your jaw or an infection.

Preventing aching teeth

Good oral hygiene prevents you from having another aching tooth problem. Good oral hygiene involves regularly brushing with fluoride-containing toothpaste. Also, you must use dental floss daily. Regular dental check-ups twice a year can prevent potential tooth problems.

If you have recurring toothaches, especially in the upper rear teeth, visit your Atlanta dentist for an examination. Many times the dental problems causing the ache are tooth grinding, periodontal disease or an abscess. However, if your dentist does not find a dental problem, you should consult your Atlanta doctor. A sinus infection, called sinusitis, can cause problems for your upper teeth.

Regardless of whether or not the pain subsides, it's important to consult a dentist about the aching tooth. Many people go about their daily tasks with an aching, possibly infected tooth but would seek immediate help for an infection or ache in another area of their body. An aching tooth is nothing to ignore.


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