Toothaches are almost exclusively caused by a bacterial infection. The only part of the tooth with blood vessels and living tissues is its nerve, which is called the pulp. An infected pulp can be painful, and the living tissues of the dental pulp are the only sections of a tooth that can technically ache. Must a toothache always be assessed by your dentist? Or do any of those at-home remedies work?
Any alleged at-home remedies will address the symptoms of a toothache, but not the cause. Your discomfort may temporarily go away—but it's going to be back. The absence of your symptoms does not mean that the infection affecting your dental pulp is under control. It just means that whatever method for pain relief you're using is working, and so your discomfort is being masked.
When it comes to at-home remedies for toothaches, many people will opt for straightforward pain relief with aspirin or ibuprofen. With a toothache, ibuprofen can be preferable. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which can minimize the amount of swelling the pulp will experience. However, pain medication can provide a false sense of security. The nerve cell endings that initiate the feeling of pain and send the relevant signals to your brain have been dulled by your pain relief efforts—and nothing more.
There may be a misconception that toothaches can be managed at home because some minor cases seemingly go away after a brief period of taking pain relief medication. This is likely to be little more than a coincidence. Sure, minor cases of dental pulp infection may partially subside (and your symptoms with it), but the bacterial infection that affected your pulp hasn't been eradicated. As such, a re-infection of the dental pulp is likely. You may have received a temporary reprieve from your toothache, but little else.
You might feel a little foolish contacting your dentist to say you've recently experienced a toothache, but this is a sensible course of action. Arrange a checkup, even if it's a little ahead of schedule. The tooth in question may have a cavity that allowed bacteria to enter it. The origins of your tooth's infection may instead be periodontal—originating in the surrounding gum tissues before affecting the tooth. Whatever the cause, your dentist can identify it and take steps to protect your dental pulp. Failing to address the cause of a toothache can lead to more intensive treatment in the future. The advanced infection of the dental pulp is often treated by totally removing the pulp from inside the tooth (with a root canal). Untreated cases may lead to loss of the tooth.
In short, it's in your best interest to identify and treat the cause of a toothache—even if the toothache seems to have faded away for the moment.
Contact a local dentist to learn more.Share
30 March 2023
Being born with naturally soft teeth, I've spent a lot of time in and out of the dentist's office. Not only have I learned a lot about basic dental care, I've also discovered many tips for dealing with broken teeth, extractions, implants, and more. I decided that I wanted to make the most of my experience by sharing what I've learned with others. True first-hand experience is a great teacher, and I knew that my story could help. I created this site to do just that, and I hope that the information here helps you to understand what to expect from your dental problems.