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February 9 Is National Toothache Day: Let's Talk Toothaches

February 9 Is National Toothache Day: Let's Talk Toothaches

Toothaches are pain within or around the tooth and they can be minor or serious. A minor toothache will cause temporary gum irritation but can be remedied at home. Serious toothaches are often much more painful and cannot be resolved using at-home methods, instead requiring a trip to the dentist. Toothaches are often caused by damage or irritation to the pulp inside your tooth, which is the innermost layer of the tooth containing soft tissue, nerve, and blood vessels. When bacteria reach the pulp it causes severe pain. If you are suffering from a toothache, here is a summary of everything you should know, from causes and symptoms to treatment and prevention.

What To Know About Toothaches

Causes. Toothaches are caused by damage to the tooth that either allows bacteria access to the pulp or that causes nerve pain within the pulp. Damage can incur from:

  • Physical trauma to the tooth that causes chips or breaks.
  • Tooth decay, also called a cavity, where bacteria have corroded the tooth, making holes that allow bacteria entry to the pulp.
  • An abscessed tooth, which is when a pocket of pus forms around the root of a tooth.
  • A damaged filling. When a filling becomes damaged, it can aggravate the tissue below it. If the decay that leads to your filling was very deep and the filling later becomes damaged, the nerves within the tooth may be exposed or the surrounding tissue may be infected.
  • Repetitive motion, such as grinding the teeth. Grinding can lead to pressure on the teeth.
  • Gum infection. Periodontitis and gingivitis both begin with bacterial infections and they target the tissue around the teeth. If not treated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.

Symptoms. The severity of your toothache cause will alter the symptoms, as mild toothaches typically only cause mild pain and few other symptoms. Severe toothaches may cause:

  • Intense Tooth pain. This can be a sharp pain brought on by sudden movement or interaction (such as the tooth coming into contact with hot or cold food), or it can be a constant pain or a throbbing pain.
  • Swelling around the tooth. This is likely a sign of bacterial infection.
  • Fever or headache. If you have a toothache and a fever or headache, go to the doctor immediately. This is an indication that you have an infection that has spread to other areas of the body and it needs immediate medical treatment.
  • Drainage from the infected tooth or surrounding gum. This drainage will taste vile and is also an indication of infection, but the infection may be contained to the tooth or area.

If your tooth pain lasts longer than 2 days, see a dentist for emergency dentistry right away.

Treatments. The type of treatment you require will depend on the severity of pain and the cause of the toothache.

  • For a cavity. If the cause of the toothache is a cavity, you will either need the cavity filled or the tooth extracted, depending on the severity of the cavity.
  • For an infection. If the cause of the toothache is an infection of the nerve, a root canal will be required.
    • Antibiotics may be prescribed for any infections
  • For physical trauma or damage to a filling. Dental restoration, ranging from crowns, fillings, or bonding, may be used to repair the tooth.

Prevention. Proper oral hygiene will prevent many toothaches, as regular brushing and flossing reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth and reduce tooth decay. Brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is absolutely necessary, and visiting the dentist twice a year for a cleaning and a checkup will greatly reduce your chances of cavity and gum disease. For those suffering from a toothache due to physical trauma, see your dentist after the incident to have the tooth repaired right away.

For Emergency Dentistry In Calgary, Visit Marlborough Dental Clinic

If you are suffering from a toothache, see a dentist right away. If pain has persisted for more than two days, if pain is severe, or if you experience swelling in the face or gums, go for emergency dental services. Marlborough Dental Centre in Calgary offers same or next day appointments to treat your dental emergency. Our clinic is open on evenings and weekends so that you can come for emergency dentistry at any time to see our Calgary dentists as soon as possible, even if your dental emergency happens outside of regular business hours. For any emergency dental services, call 1-403-248-2066, or to book a non-emergency appointment, fill out the online contact form.


Q: What can I do at home about my toothache?
A: There are many home remedies available to alleviate tooth pain. Some of them include:

  • Take pain medication (ibuprofen)
  • Rinse your mouth with saltwater
  • Use a cold compress on the outside of your mouth
  • Brush your teeth and use mouthwash
  • Elevate your head

Q: Are dental emergencies covered by insurance?
A: Yes. While Alberta Health does not cover other types of dental services for those over 18 and under 65, dental emergencies are covered for everyone.

Q: Does a toothache always require emergency dentistry?
A: No, tooth pain is considered a dental emergency when pain lasts more than 2 days, is severe, or is causing other symptoms such as fever or headache. The average toothache that causes only mild pain can be treated at home and often dissipates within a few days. When you have a toothache, be sure to floss to dislodge any matter that could be causing discomfort.

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