Toothache – causes and treatment


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For toothache is usually one damaged or sick tooth responsible. In rare cases, however, can also Diseases in the upper or lower jaw, in the neighboring area of ​​the head, the paranasal sinuses or the eyes can be the cause of toothache. Painful teeth can also very rarely Harbingers of a heart attack his. Therefore, toothache should not be taken lightly, but should be examined and treated professionally by a dentist.

Overview of this article

What are toothache?

Toothache can in many different forms and types occur. The most common is short, pulling and stinging pain when eating cold or warm food or beverages. The pain stimulus is uncomfortable at first, but evaporates as quickly as it came. 90% of Germans suffer from this type of toothache, which is often ignored lightly or even completely, since there is no recognizable disease or inflammation in the oral cavity for the naked eye.

If a toothache is triggered by an injury or inflammation in the mouth area, it is Pain burning, pulling and persistent. Often it is not the tooth that hurts directly, but rather the gums, the tooth holder or the jawbone. Colloquially, however, this makes no difference, because one always speaks of toothache, no matter which part of the jaw causes the pain.

By far the most uncomfortable are toothache, which occurs without external influence and inflammation or visible injury. They usually start directly from the inside of the teeth or the tooth root and are rather untouchable for external pain relief. The Nerve inside the tooth is already so irritated that it continuously sends pain stimuli to the body. Of course, these have to be treated causally, which makes a visit to the teeth indispensable.

Causes of toothache

There are many causes of toothache as they are only a symptom and not a specific illness. Triggers for toothache can be simple diseases such as sensitive teeth, but also more serious diseases such as periodontitis, rheumatism, diabetes or an impending heart attack.

Main cause of toothache: dental problems

This is probably the most common cause of toothache Lack of protective tooth enamel. If it is no longer available, the dentinal tubules are exposed and there is direct access to the tooth pulp inside. This is where the tooth nerve lies, which can be irritated by the slightest external influence (heat and cold, but also treats and sweets) and subsequently sends pain signals to the body. Some other diseases of the body such as Diabetes or certain autoimmune diseases sometimes also have an effect on the melt density. Sensitive teeth and the resulting toothache are no stranger to most people affected by these diseases.

The decomposition of the enamel often goes hand in hand with the development of caries on the teeth, which is why permanent toothache Concomitant symptom of caries are not exactly rare. The caries does not always have to be immediately visible from the outside, it can also hide between the teeth or under fillings and crowns and thus trigger the unpleasant pain.

Possible causes are also inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), the tooth support system (periodontitis) or the dental pulp (pulpitis). Here, however, the tooth does not hurt directly, but rather the gums, the tooth retention apparatus or the dental pulp. The gums or pulp swell, accompanied by a throbbing pain that the tooth nerve sends to our body. Warmth intensifies this type of toothache, which is why it is usually very painful for those affected, especially at night.

One should not forget a kind of toothache, because every person will involuntarily be affected by them. Teething prepares infants and toddlers, that is Eruption of milk teeth of the gums, considerable pain. After that, preschoolers first have the often painful one Loss of milk teeth and shortly thereafter with the Emergence of permanent teeth to fight. And even adults are not completely spared from this type of toothache. Break wisdom teeth through, this is also associated in many cases with moderate to severe pain.

But also irregularly grown and crooked teeth, Too tight braces or poorly fitting dentures or bridges can cause toothache. In all cases there is pressure on the jawbone for which it was not originally intended. Of course, the body reacts to the incorrect and excessive strain on the bones and teeth with pain to signal us that something is wrong.

Jaw, oral cavity and dentition: the cause of toothache!

In most cases, complaints on the jaw and dental problems are mutually dependent, which is easy to understand. Inflammation of the gums or the tooth support system quickly affects the jaw if it is not counteracted and treated in good time. The risk of dangerous bone inflammation in the upper and lower jaw is growing. In rare cases, a Jawbone inflammation can also be the result of injuries, radiation treatment or an oral surgery (e.g. root canal treatment). In all cases, the result is the same for those affected: the inflamed jaw bone hurts a lot.

Also one Misalignment of the jaw (a so-called craniomandibular dysfunction) can lead to pain, which is often simply dismissed as a toothache. A misalignment between the skull (cranium) and the lower jaw (mandible) can lead to a painful restriction of the movement of the temporomandibular joint. In such a case, it is not very easy for the patient to precisely localize the pain. It radiates to both the skull and mouth region and is therefore mistakenly dismissed as a headache and toothache, although the cause is to be found entirely differently.

Ultimately, of course, too Abscesses or growths in the jaw cause indefinite toothache. Depending on where they are located in the jaw, they press on tooth roots and tooth nerves, causing pain. While the abscesses and growths themselves are not painful, the patient now suffers from toothache instead, which is not caused by a defect directly on the tooth.

When head and teeth hurt at the same time

Pain from the entire head and face area can continue into the teeth. Those who are often plagued by headaches or migraines sometimes feel a pull or dull pressure in certain places in the jaw. In the case of headaches or migraines, that is often trigeminal nerve (the fifth cranial nerve), which is responsible for the eyes, upper and lower jaw. It becomes irritated and sends pain impulses to the brain, thus simulating jaw and toothache that are actually not there.

Pain caused by Sinusitis or Ear infections occasionally radiate into the teeth or the upper jaw. For some people, a simple cold is enough to trigger atypical toothache. In these cases, too, the trigeminal nerve is the cause of the often difficult to localize pain in the teeth and jaw.

Toothache as a harbinger of a heart attack

Heart attack pain affects not only the chest, as suspected in most cases, but can also radiate into the back, arm, abdomen and jaw. So if the teeth hurt and there is also shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea and poor circulation, toothache can occur warning for an upcoming heart attack. In this case, the emergency doctor must be informed immediately!

Summary of the main causes of toothache

Causes in the tooth and jaw area

  • Exposed tooth necks
  • Missing or defective tooth enamel
  • Caries
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Periodontitis (periodontitis)
  • Inflammation of the tooth roots and root tips
  • Braces and poorly fitting bridges and prostheses
  • Misalignments and crooked teeth
  • Erupting wisdom teeth
  • Teething in children
  • Bone inflammation in the upper or lower jaw
  • Malposition of the jaw (craniomandibular dysfunction)

Causes of toothache from the mouth, head and face region

  • Inflammation of the oral mucosa
  • Abscesses and growths in the jaw
  • Inflammation of the sinuses
  • Ear infections
  • Headache and migraines
  • Inflammation of a facial nerve (trigeminal nerve)

Other, rather rare triggers for toothache

  • Harbingers of a heart attack

How does the dentist deal with toothache??

The dentist should always be the first point of contact for permanent complaints affecting teeth and teeth. By a targeted survey and a subsequent one Examination of the oral cavity he will get to the bottom of the causes. If superficial examinations of the oral cavity with a mirror and examination probe are not sufficient, the dentist will ask for the preparation of one X-ray photograph To fall back on. Here, subliminal defects of the teeth and jaw, but also of the temporomandibular joint, can be made visible. If no causes of the toothache can be determined by the dentist, the dentist will issue a referral to another specialist, such as an orthodontist, who, e.g. will treat a malposition of the jaw that is responsible for the toothache.

It is of course important for a visit to the dentist that they can explain the complaints correctly. The dentist needs to know exactly where it hurts, how the pain feels (whether it is stinging, burning, dull boring or throbbing) and which areas also hurt. Are there any complaints such as swelling or inflammation or pain in other areas of the body? The dentist needs all this information to be able to make a correct diagnosis of the actual cause of the toothache.

When to the dentist?

If one of the following applies to you, you should immediately make an appointment with your dentist:

  • The complaints continue despite careful oral care
  • The pain occurs in ever shorter intervals
  • The area around the tooth is red and swollen
  • The pain occurs frequently and for no apparent reason
  • The gums bleed again and again when eating and brushing teeth
  • Stinging pains suddenly appear that do not go away
  • There is pain in the jaw, head or face

If, in addition to the toothache, there are suddenly pains in the chest, arm or back and circulatory problems, call the emergency doctor immediately, because these symptoms can be the harbingers of an impending heart attack.

Toothache treatment

Dental therapy for toothache

There is an individually tailored treatment measure for every dental problem. That is why it is important that the dentist check the actual one first Clarifies the cause of the toothache, before he will propose and implement a specific treatment. The types of treatment always depend on which diseases actually exist. So it is not enough, e.g. treat inflammation of the gums when the toothache is actually caused by caries and remains undetected and untreated.

However, simple treatment at the dentist is often not sufficient to successfully treat the toothache. Here, another specialist is consulted, who recognizes and treats the causes of the pain that lies outside the oral cavity and therefore outside the therapeutic area of ​​the dentist. If you treat that underlying diseases such as headaches, migraines or inflammation of the sinuses or middle ear, the toothache disappears on its own as long as there are no other diseases that are the cause of this pain. The individual therapeutic approaches are therefore due to the actual illness that triggers the toothache.

Bridge toothache with short-term remedies

In the short term, toothache can of course be treated with medication. Are suitable for severe complaints painkillers such as acetylsalicylic acid (ACC), paracetamol and ibuprofen. If an obvious inflammation is the cause of the toothache, you can instead anti-inflammatory drugs how to take Voltaren and Diclofenac, which also have an analgesic effect. However, since all pain relievers only treat the symptoms and not the cause and should not be taken over a longer period of time without a doctor’s clarification, they cannot replace a visit to the dentist.

For minor complaints, natural remedies also help very well in the fight against pain. Clove oil, which is applied directly to the painful area in the mouth, is one of the best known herbal remedies. To combat inflammation in the mouth, chamomile extract or arnica essence helps, which, like the clove oil, is applied directly to the inflamed area. However, a cold envelope that is placed on the painful side from the outside can also have a decongestant and analgesic effect. You should avoid hot drinks such as tea or coffee, because they only worsen the pain unnecessarily.

Proper dental care is often the best therapy

thorough oral hygiene is often the best therapy to treat toothache and of course to prevent it. Teeth should be brushed at least twice a day after meals. Electric toothbrushes are best suited for this in connection with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial or fluoridated toothpastes. The correct use of the electric toothbrush should, however, be explained to the dentist before first use, so as not to injure the gums or the enamel.

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Christina Cherry
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