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Toothache

Emergency dentists often treat children and adults who suffer with toothache and severe tooth pain. The toothache and pain may arise for a number of reasons that only a professional dentist can identify and recommend treatment for.

Toothache and pain can often be prevented by treating the underlying cause. Attending regular six-month appointments enable dentists to evaluate the patient's oral health condition and treat dental and gum disorders, before they cause toothache and oral pain.

Causes of Toothache

Toothache may develop as a result of:

  • Poor oral hygiene and plaque build-up
  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • Worn teeth
  • Eroded teeth
  • Damaged or fractured teeth
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Gum recession and inflammation
  • Infection

When teeth and gums are not adequately cleaned through good oral hygiene maintenance, sticky plaque can build up and attract acidic bacteria that wears away tooth enamel, infecting the inner dentin and dental pulp. Toothache arises because the inner dentin and dental pulp that contains the nerves and blood vessels become exposed.

Poor oral hygiene and a diet high in acidic foods contribute to tooth damage, leading to tooth decay when bacteria colonises on and around the teeth. Smoking and tobacco consumption also increase bacteria and contribute to tooth sensitivity and soreness.

The saliva in the mouth may become acidic and can contribute to dental erosion. Sugary and acidic foods are not the only causes of tooth wear but also tooth decay and cavities.

Cavities expose the inner tooth surfaces raising sensitivity to temperatures when eating foods. When decay or infection sets in the inner dental nerves are at risk of damage. Toothache is often a sign of a cavity where dental damage is present.

Teeth grinding habits or bruxism also damage the outer tooth surface and wear down the tooth cusp. This exposes the inner tooth layers and contributes to tooth sensitivity and toothache. Similarly, weak or damaged teeth with fractures, cracks, chips or breaks are likely to have cavities that trigger toothache.

Dental erosion may also be caused by improper teeth brushing technique. A hard-bristled toothbrush combined with incorrect brushing can lead to receding gums and expose tooth nerves for painful symptoms.

Irritated gums, whether caused by decay or trauma, can become inflamed. Gingivitis can then set in and is the start of gum disease. A symptom of tooth damage, tooth decay and gum disease is tooth sensitivity and toothache.

Similarly, the start of tooth infection and abscess may manifest as toothache, which if treated early can prevent a dental emergency from arising.

Tooth infection that causes tooth pain may be prevented if the underlying conditions, such as tooth decay, cavities and eroded teeth, are treated early.

Dental damage, teeth misalignment, malocclusion and jaw disorder can be present from birth or occur due to dental injury. Orthodontic conditions may be the underlying cause of toothache when teeth are pressured to move out of their normal, healthy position.

Emergency dentists are qualified and experienced to provide treatment for all the underlying causes of toothache, in order to provider pain relief and restore tooth function.

Treating Toothache

The symptoms of toothache may be temporarily treated through an emergency dental kit while an emergency dentist is contacted for treatment. These temporary measures should not be used as a long term solution, nor should painkillers be repetitively used as a professional dental treatment replacement.

Some dentists do not have long waiting lists and immediate dental care can be provided through fast-tracked appointments, particularly where the individual is an existing patient. Having a toothache treated early can prevent severe toothache, further dental trauma and a dental emergency.

The dentist first assesses oral condition and the cause of the toothache. Pain may be experienced throughout the jaw and face. Therefore, diagnostic screening tests are necessary to locate the source of pain. The type of treatment recommended will depend on the cause of the toothache.

The following treatments may be used for the treatment of toothache:

  • Professional teeth cleaning
  • Dental fillings, inlays and onlays to fill tooth cavities
  • Night mouth guards to prevent teeth grinding
  • Proper cleaning of orthodontic devices and dentures
  • Composite white filler or dental crowns
  • Orthodontic braces to correct teeth misalignment
  • Gum regeneration and contouring to treat gum recession
  • Root canal treatment to remove infection
  • Tooth extraction to prevent spread of infection
  • Tooth restorations to restore damaged teeth
  • Dental implants to replace missing tooth roots
  • Crowns, bridges and dentures to replace missing teeth

Home dental hygiene may not remove all plaque and tartar build-up that harms tooth structure. Therefore, professional dental cleaning is best sought to remove debris from areas between teeth where the toothbrush and floss cannot reach. Similarly, cleaning dental and orthodontic devices properly can prevent plaque and bacteria from developing in the mouth.

Amalgam metal fillings are replaced by tooth-coloured white composite fillings for an improvement in aesthetics. White fillings can restore tooth structure, shape and colour. Veneers and Lumineers may be used to cover teeth for a more natural, white and symmetrical teeth appearance.

Dental crowns are made from a range of materials such as ceramics, porcelain, resin, gold and zirconium. These materials are durable and serve as natural looking teeth for healthy chewing function.

Orthodontic braces are the primary means of aligning mild to severe tooth structural conditions for proper bite function and improved facial expression. There are a range of modern dental braces to choose from and these are designed to be near-invisible and prevent the stigma associated with traditional metal braces.

Root canal treatment is provided to remove painful infection, prevent spread of infection and save the tooth where possible. However, if tooth extraction is necessary artificial teeth replacement options are available to choose from, including dental implants, crowns, bridges and dentures.

Ultimately, dentists provide guidance on preventing tooth decay and tooth damage so individuals may have a reduced risk of suffering toothache and not go through extensive and costly dental treatment. When toothache arises it is better to get early dental treatment or emergency dental care to prevent the condition from worsening.

Reducing the Risk of Toothache

The risk of experiencing toothache can be reduced by timely dental care and good oral hygiene practice. Preventing the causes of toothache means the individual can lower the likelihood of having toothache and needing emergency care. Steps that should be followed to reduce the risk of toothache include:

  • Maintaining oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay
  • Consuming a healthy balanced diet, exercising, moderating alcohol intake and not smoking
  • Having professional teeth cleaning
  • Attending regular dental appointments to monitor oral health
  • Seeking immediate dental care for oral trauma, toothache and other dental concerns
  • Wearing a mouth guard to prevent teeth grinding or a sports mouth guard to ward off oral injury
  • Having orthodontic braces and dentures professionally repaired when broken
  • Not using temporary dental repair kits long term

Although these steps may lower the risk of getting toothache, other steps need to be followed to immediately treat a toothache before emergency or professional dental care is received. These steps can include:

  • Place an ice-pack over the area of the face where the toothache is experienced to reduce pain
  • Use painkillers as advised through the manufacturer leaflet
  • Apply clove oil to an infected tooth with some cotton wool
  • Temporarily fill a cavity with some sugar free gum or dental wax or cement from an emergency dental repair kit
  • Apply teeth desensitising gel to the tooth surface

Accessing Dental Care for Toothache

Our clinic provides timely appointments throughout the week for toothache and pain. Get in touch with us by phone or email and we can arrange an appointment with a clinician to assess your oral health.

Baker Street

Dental Clinic

Dr Watson Chambers 102 Baker Street London, W1U 6FY

020 8563 8063

Liverpool Street

Dental Clinic

9 Artillery Lane, London E1 7LP

0207 247 7151

Earls Court

Dental Clinic

221 - 225 Old Brompton Rd, Earls Court, Kensington London SW5 0EA

020 7370 0055

Kings Cross

LDN Dental

34 Caledonian Road, London N1 9DT

0207 278 6362