Treating dental pain

October 9, 2015

We've all seen the cartoons: the kid with an ice bag clamped to his cheek, trapped in purgatory by an aching tooth, the father getting ready to dive in with pliers. Dental pain can be a relentless yowl that we want to stop now, or a mild but steady pain that dogs us all day long. The first step in stamping out dental pain is finding its cause.

Treating dental pain

1. Causes of toothache

Toothache has many possible causes, but the most common are trauma, a cracked tooth, cavities or erosion, hypersensitivity, or pain that shows up in your teeth but starts elsewhere, such as in infected ears or sinuses, known as referred pain.

A toothache can also be a sign of a heart problem, such as angina (chest pain caused by restricted blood flow) or a heart attack. It can also be caused by gum disease, which damages the gums and bones that support the teeth.

2. Dental pain can make you ill

Many of us tend to limp along with toothaches, but at our peril, says Kimberly Harms, a dental surgeon. "People don't think of dental pain as an illness. But your teeth are part of your body. When you have an infection in your gums, for example, you have infection in your body."

3. See a dentist

Unfortunately, most of us associate trips to the dentist with more pain: the drilling, the poking, the injections. For lasting relief, however, a trip to our dentist is the smartest strategy (and may be less painful than you think). You can also take soothing steps at home to address dental pain and prevent a reprise.

The longer you wait to treat tooth pain, the larger the problem becomes. So, it's important to act fast. Put the pliers away. Your dentist will diagnose the cause of your pain and likely offer treatment.

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