Below are the answers to our most frequently asked questions regarding toothaches.

In most cases, decay is the source of the toothache, but abscesses (infections in the tooth nerve), periodontal (gum) disease, bruxism (grinding teeth), abnormal bites, and previous tooth trauma can also cause toothaches. Infections of the sinus, ear, or TMJ, as well as facial muscle tension can cause pain that resembles a toothache, but are often accompanied by a headache. Pain around the jaws and teeth can be a symptom of a heart disease. A complete oral examination is the only way to determine the cause of your tooth or mouth pain. Call Digital Dentistry at Southpoint today for more information.
You may have advanced gum disease or a cavity. The first sign of decay is usually the pain felt when eating something very hot, very cold, or sweet. If the pulp of the tooth has become irritated or infected, it can also cause discomfort.

Fever, swelling around the tooth, a foul-tasting discharge, and difficulty breathing or swallowing are very dangerous symptoms. Contact Durham dentist Dr. Schlotterer immediately if you notice any of those symptoms.

How do I alleviate the pain if I can’t see Dr. Schlotterer immediately?
It is important to visit us as soon as possible to prevent the condition from getting worse. In the meantime, the following can help temporarily alleviate pain and inflammation:

  • Floss the teeth to dislodge any food particles that are stuck
  • Rinse with a mixture of warm water and salt
  • Take (ingest) an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen
  • Directly on the irritated tooth and gum, apply an over-the-counter antiseptic containing benzocaine to temporarily relieve discomfort. Directly applying eugenol (oil of cloves) can also help numb the gums and restore comfort levels.
  • If there has been some injury or trauma to the tooth, a cold compress or ice pack can be applied to the cheek outside the area for comfort and to reduce swelling.
The key to preventing a toothache is to establish and stick to a regular oral hygiene routine, according to Dr. Schlotterer, our Durham dentist. For example, if you fail to regularly brush and floss your teeth after meals, you increase your risk for developing cavities and tooth decay. Cavities that are not filled can cause considerable pain and eventually destroy the pulp, dentin, and nerve of a tooth. To avoid this and other causes of toothaches, visit the dentist at least once every six months, brush thoroughly twice a day, and floss once a day, every day.
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