Toothache can take different forms; you may experience a dull, throbbing pain in your tooth or jaw, sharp pains when you eat or drink, or swelling in the affected area. The pain may be persistent or come and go. Symptoms can also include headache or fever.
Even if the pain subsides on its own, that doesn’t mean the issue has resolved itself. Toothaches often come back and are almost always a symptom of an issue that a dentist will need to address.
If you have toothache, you should see a dentist. Looking for a new dentist? Find your nearest Bupa Dental Care practice and get in touch.
Why you need to see your dentist
In many cases, toothaches are just one symptom of a bigger problem that can worsen if you don't seek treatment. They don't usually go away on their own. The longer you put off visiting your dentist, the more serious the problem could become.
When you visit your dentist, they'll examine your mouth to determine the cause of your pain and recommend the most suitable treatment. This may involve a filling, root canal therapy or treating your gums. Your dentist may need to remove the tooth to prevent further problems.
If you're experiencing discomfort, you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can. Leaving a toothache could lead to an infection or cause irreparable damage to your teeth.
Always see a dentist if:
- You experience toothache for two or more days.
- You're in severe discomfort or pain.
- You notice a pain in your ear, have a fever, or experience discomfort when opening your mouth.
What causes toothache?
The most common causes of dental pain include:
- Tooth decay – If plaque erodes the enamel surface of your tooth, this can expose the sensitive nerve endings within the underlying tooth structure (dentine) and can continue to infiltrate into the centre of the tooth reaching the pulp.
- Gum disease – If plaque remains beneath the gum, it can damage the bone that supports your teeth and the roots of your teeth as well. This causes teeth to loosen and ache.
- Abscesses – Tooth decay and gum disease can cause an abscess to form below or alongside the tooth root, which causes pain and spreads infection.
- Trauma – If your tooth gets chipped or cracked, this can also expose the pulp and put you at risk of infection.
- Impaction – If a tooth doesn't emerge fully from the gums, it can irritate the surrounding nerves, causing pain. This is most common with wisdom teeth and other molars.
- Teeth grinding (bruxism) – If you grind your teeth at night or during the day, this causes the teeth to wear down over time exposing their sensitive middle layers, and can also strain the surrounding supporting structures.
- Misaligned teeth – if your teeth are crooked or not properly aligned, this can cause uneven pressure in the mouth and may require orthodontic treatment.
Dental pain is usually a symptom of a more serious problem, so it's important that you see your dentist as soon as possible.
How can you prevent toothache?
Most cases of toothache are preventable. To keep your teeth and gums healthy, make sure you brush your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, and floss at least once a day.
It’s also important to visit your dentist and hygienist regularly. Your hygienist can remove plaque and tartar from hard to reach places and from below the gum line, helping to avoid tooth decay and gum disease.
If you visit your dentist for regular check-ups, they may be able to spot and address a problem before it becomes painful.
If you have toothache, visit a dentist as soon as possible. Find your nearest Bupa Dental Care practice here:
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Bupa Dental Care is a trading name of Oasis Healthcare Limited. Registered in England and Wales number: 03257078. Registered office: Bupa Dental Care Vantage Office Park, Old Gloucester Road, Hambrook, Bristol, United Kingdom BS16 1GW.