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Alternative NamesPain - tooth or teeth
Definition Return to top
Toothache is pain in or around a tooth.
Considerations Return to top
A toothache is generally the result of dental cavities (tooth decay) or sometimes an infection. Tooth decay is often caused by poor dental hygiene, although the tendency to get tooth decay is partly inherited.
Sometimes, pain that's felt in the tooth is actually due to pain in other parts of the body. This is called referred pain or radiating pain. For example, an earache may sometimes cause tooth pain.
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
Over-the-counter pain medications may be used while waiting to see the dentist or primary health care provider.
For toothaches caused by a tooth abscess, the dentist may recommend antibiotic therapy and other treatments, like root canal.
To prevent tooth decay, use good oral hygiene. A low sugar diet is recommended along with regular flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and regular professional cleaning. Sealants and fluoride applications by the dentist are important for preventing tooth decay.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Seek medical care if:
Note: The dentist is an appropriate person to see for most causes of toothaches. However, if the problem is referred pain from another location, you may need to see your primary health care provider.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
The dentist will examine you. The physical examination may include an examination of the mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, throat, ears, nose, and neck. You may need dental x-rays. The dentist may recommend other tests, depending on the suspected cause.
The dentist will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
Treatment may involve fillings, tooth removal, or a root canal, if the problem is severe. If there is a fever or swelling of the jaw, an antibiotic will usually be prescribed.Update Date: 5/28/2008 Updated by: Jason S. Baker, DMD, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, Private Practice, Yonkers, New York. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.