With less than a week to go until the annual National Toothache Day, perhaps it is time the nation started to think about their own dental hygiene; making sure to brush regularly and importantly, not ignoring the first sign of toothache or discomfort.
Also known as ‘odontalgia’, a toothache is pain emanating from either a single tooth or multiple teeth. National Toothache Day occurs every year on February 9, although why this specific date was chosen has long been open to debate!
Some believe the origin of this day corresponds with the date that the Hershey Corporation was founded – the largest producer of chocolate in North America. After all, let’s not forget that consuming large amounts of sugar over a sustained period can increase the sensitivity of already sensitive teeth, as well as exacerbating decay leading to a toothache.
One probably wouldn’t celebrate a toothache on February 9, so maybe instead, it could be the perfect opportunity to boost knowledge on ways of avoiding toothaches in the first instance, share knowledge with others, or use the day as a kick up the backside to arrange that long overdue dentist appointment – especially after all those sugary Christmas treats!
Tooth decay is usually the primary reason for toothache, which will not get better on its own. Anyone with a toothache must see a dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. If left untreated, a toothache and the condition that is causing it can worsen.
Causes of toothache may include:
In addition to tooth decay, toothache may be caused by:
- A damaged filling.
- Grinding teeth (bruxism).
- Infected gums.
- Tooth abscess.
- Tooth fracture.
Symptoms of a toothache may include:
- Fever or headache.
- Foul-tasting drainage from the infected tooth.
- Pain that is sharp, throbbing, or constant. The pain may only occur when pressure is applied to the tooth.
- Swelling around the affected tooth.
Those that are fortunate enough to never have experienced toothache can underestimate its impact. It can make sufferers miserable, causing difficulty in eating, sleeping, or sometimes even just talking. However, there are ways of helping to prevent the onset of toothache.
Routine dental care is the vital first step. It is also important to avoid or severely limit sugary foods and acidic drinks. Brush at least twice a day, preferably after meals and snacks, whilst flossing at least once a day to prevent gum disease is advised too. Using a fluoride-containing mouthwash such as CB12 mouthwash will help to protect teeth from decay and offer a lasting solution to bad breath. Moreover, always make sure to visit the dentist regularly for oral examinations and a professional cleaning.
There is no need to be afraid of going to the dentist – most dentists are fully understanding of their patients’ worries, and are skilled at ensuring dental treatment is free of both stress and pain, with advances in modern day technology helping greatly.
When to see the dentist
People that have suffered with toothache for over 1-2 days should visit a dentist as soon as possible to have it assessed and treated appropriated, as the longer it is left, the worse it will get.
Without sufficient treatment, the pulp inside the tooth will eventually become infected, usually resulting in a dental abscess, with severe and continuous throbbing pain.
Paracetamol and ibuprofen may subside the pain and discomfort before waiting on an appointment with the dentist, but children under the age of 16 shouldn’t be given aspirin.
Anyone who suspects they have a dental abscess need to see a dentist as soon as possible for treatment. Without treatment, the condition usually becomes much worse and the person may lose the affected tooth. Complications, although rare, can be serious and maybe even life-threatening.
Antibiotics are usually required if:
- There are signs of severe infection.
- There are signs the infection is spreading, such as swelling of the face or neck.
- There is a high risk complications – such as people with diabetes or a weakened immune system.
If antibiotics are required, amoxicillin or phenoxymethylpenicillin are usually prescribed, whilst clarithromycin may be prescribed instead to those that are allergic to penicillin.
Metronidazole may be prescribed in cases where the infection is severe or spreading, though clindamycin could be prescribed to people that are allergic to metronidazole.
Of course, Medical Specialists® Pharmacy understand that it is not always easy to book an appointment to get in to see the dentist, sometimes there is a delay of days or even weeks until a time becomes available.
As a one-off emergency treatment, Medical Specialists® can prescribe amoxicillin and/or metronidazole for dental infections and gum disease. This standby treatment is available for male or female patients, until the patient gets in to see the dental practitioner.
To obtain dental treatments from Medical Specialists®, all patients must first undergo an online consultation with one of the GMC-registered doctors, or send in a private prescription by post, written by the patient’s own doctor or dentist.