Tooth Ache

The most common cause of oral pain comes from a tooth ache. If a tooth aches by itself or there is a lingering pain after hot or cold drinks the most likely cause is direct damage to the pulp (nerve) either by fracture of the tooth or tooth decay.
To help eliminate other causes it is good to:

  • Use dental floss to remove any food trapped between the teeth as this can cause the gums to ache and mimic a toothache.
  • Rinse out mouth vigorously with warm water to eliminate food which may be causing pressure in a deep cavity in the tooth.

If the ache continues, a dental appointment is required to explore the decayed tooth and a decision will need to be made to either extract the tooth, or do a root canal therapy (please see our information on root canal therapy).

Sometimes,  a pulp which is infected by tooth decay does not give a toothache immediately and will quietly lay dormant while  bacteria which colonise it go through the end of the root and infect the bone under it. Eventually too many bacteria in the bone cause pus to form and because it can’t escape can cause an extreme tooth ache. This is known as a dental abscess. If the pus can penetrate through the bone and out to the gum and cheek, a swelling will start. Untreated, this infection will spread and can ultimately become life threatening.

Use a cold pack (10 minutes on and 10 minutes off) and take pain killers to try and contain it. A dental appointment is urgently required. If your dentist is too busy consult a medical doctor so that they can see your swollen face and they will at least start you on antibiotics which will help contain this potentially serious infection. If not allergic to penicillin Augmentin-Duo is the antibiotic of choice. If allergic to penicillin Dalacin -C is a very good alternative. If the swelling is spreading into the floor of the mouth and the neck, and the airway is restricted and breathing is becoming difficult,  you need urgent care. If your dentist cannot see you NOW go straight to your local hospital emergency room. This condition is known as Ludwig’s Angina and is fortunately quite rare.


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