Be Ready for Your Next Toothache!




“Does your tooth still ache?”

“No, the dentist kept it.”

That’s the old joke. But a toothache seldom ends with anything as extreme as a pulled tooth. The symptom, however, can mean something is seriously wrong, said Vernon Beamon, D.M.D., a dentist in Gulfport, Miss.

There are several causes for toothaches. Relief often requires a doctor’s treatment, usually a visit to the dentist, of course.

“Whatever the cause, a toothache is a signal you need to see a doctor or change your habits, or both,” Dr. Beamon said.

“Don’t ignore it, especially if there are other symptoms or if it lasts more than a day or so.”

Surveys show that the most common cause of such pain is tooth decay, which would require a filling or more elaborate dental treatment.

Other common dental causes for toothaches are a cracked tooth or filling, nerve damage to a tooth, an infection, gum disease, an impacted wisdom tooth, recessive gums and/or an abscessed tooth, Dr. Beamon said.

The veteran dentist added that toothache triggers also may be sensitivity from teeth grinding or gum chewing, improper brushing or flossing, jaw problems (TMJ) or sensitivity to teeth whiteners.

At times, he continued, the problem will not be a dental issue.

A toothache may indicate a heart attack, a sinus infection, radiating pain from an ear problem, a side effect of heart disease or lung cancer, or an inflamed nerve elsewhere in your head, such as from the trigeminal nerve, various medical sources indicated.

Usually, you will decide it means you need a dental appointment. In the meantime, how do you cope with the pain?

There are hundreds of home remedies to temporarily numb toothache pain for a day or so, until you can get to a dentist. An easy solution is to add salt to warm water and rinse it in your mouth, Dr. Beamon suggested.

Or buy an inexpensive, over-the-counter tube of Orajel, which is available at most drug, grocery and convenience stores. Apply a drop of the gel to the painful tooth, which will numb the area, he explained.

“I stress these remedies are STRICTLY temporary solutions to problems that will continue to worsen,” Dr. Beamon added. “I see patients all the time who ignore pain too long and come to me after they are swollen from infection.

“When patients have a toothache or other pressing dental problem, we try to see them as soon as possible, often on the same day,” Dr. Beamon said. “Just call us and we will help.”

For an appointment at Beamon Dental, call (228) 896-3600.