What is it?
Toothache or dental pain is simply defined as an uncomfortable sensation related to the teeth or surrounding structures.
Inflammation of the sinuses can cause symptoms easily mistaken for toothache in the upper jaw.
The human jaw can also be a source of mouth and facial pain.
The temporomandibular joins the joints on either side of the head that connect the lower jawbone to the skull are two of the most-used joints in the body.
The movement of the jaw is supported by an intricate combination of muscles, bones, and nerves that make up these important joints.
TMJ (also referred to as TMD) disorders occur when any one of these working parts becomes damaged and stops working properly, sometimes causing chronic facial pain.
TMJ disorders are often associated with clicking or popping of the jaw, but other symptoms include jaw pain, headaches, limited motion of the mouth, uneven bite and teeth sensitivity.
Some people with TMJ disorders also experience pain in other areas of the face, including the temples, ears, neck, and even the back.
What causes it?
There are many different causes of toothaches or symptoms similar to toothache.
Some common causes include:
Fractured or cracked teeth
Exposed teeth roots
Ulceration of the gums
The most common cause of toothache, or pain in the jaw and face, is pulpitis which means inflammation of the pulp of the tooth.
Several other conditions may also cause pain in the mouth - always seek advice from your dentist if you have toothache.
If you have a toothache, seek immediate advice from your dentist before the problem becomes severe.
If you visit your dentist regularly, any problems can be diagnosed early and the treatment will be more straightforward.
Pulpitis is often reversible and, once your dentist has identified and treated the problem (usually with a simple filling), thetoothache will disappear. A dental abscess will require extraction of the tooth or a more complicated filling (root canal treatment) if the tooth is to be saved.
Pain killers can temporarily relieve dental pain. They are not a definitive treatment because the underlying cause of dental pain still needs to be treated. If the pain is prolonged and severe, painkillers such as Nurofen or Panadeine may provide some relief.
Antibiotics may be prescribed as an adjunct to the main dental treatment, especially in cases of bacterial infection (dental abscess). Antibiotics by themselves are not an effective treatment for dental pain.
Home treatments include a saltwater mouthwash to help prevent infection if you have mouth ulcers.
If you are experiencing chronic jaw pain it is advisable to see your doctor.
Some symptoms of TMJ disorders can also be symptomatic of other disorders.
Your doctor can help to determine any injuries or conditions that may be causing your pain.
If it is determined that you have a TMJ disorder, treatment will depend on the extent of the pain and condition.
Treatment options include medication, diet modification (eating softer foods, for example), physical therapy, ice and heat applications, stress reduction, jaw massage, use of a mouth guard, corrective dentistry and in some cases, surgery.