Nigeria's foremost Online Energy News Platform

Toothache and Possible Remedies

By Adaobi Rhema Oguejiofor

A question that often comes to mind is the issue of whether or not the tooth is an organ or just a part of the body because whenever it experiences the slightest inconvenience, there is a disproportionate impact on a person’s comfort and overall well-being.

Although the teeth play a critical role in digestion, shaping sounds, and producing speech, as well as contributing to facial structure and aesthetics, making it essential for maintaining overall health and well-being; the teeth are technically not considered organs, but rather specialized structures called odontodes, as they do not meet the criteria for an organ.

Organs are complex structures composed of different tissues that work together to perform a specific function. Teeth, on the other hand, are primarily made of a single tissue called dentin, with a thin outer layer of enamel and a softer interior pulp.

While teeth may resemble bones as a result of their hard, calcified structure, but are not considered true bones, as bones are composed of osseous tissue, while teeth are composed of four different tissues, including enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp.

Despite being a small structure in the body, the teeth, once they encounter problems or experience the slightest inconvenience, can make a person quite uncomfortable. Toothache, whether it is sharp and sudden or dull and constant is hard to ignore. It refers to pain in and around the teeth and jaw, which is usually caused when the nerve in the root of a tooth or surrounding a tooth is irritated.

Toothaches are usually a sign of an underlying dental problem, such as a cavity, gum disease, or an abscess, and if left untreated, toothaches can lead to serious complications, such as tooth loss, infection and even bone loss. Although toothaches are usually not life-threatening, some cases can be signs of serious conditions that require immediate medical treatment like heart disease and lung cancer.

Toothaches may be constant or intermittent, occurring at intervals. Symptoms often include throbbing pain or swelling in or around the tooth or gum, fever, sharp pain from touching the tooth or biting down, tenderness and achiness in or around the tooth, painful sensitivity in the tooth reacting to hot or cold foods and drinks, bad breath, as well as burning or shock-like pain, which is quite uncommon.

Issues like tooth infection, decay, injury, loss of a tooth, or extraction, which involves when a tooth is pulled out, cracked tooth, damaged dental restoration, teeth grinding or clenching are the most common causes of dental or tooth pain. Also, heart diseases and lung cancer can cause toothaches due to the location of the vagus nerve, which passes through the jaw. However, this is not very common.

Usually, toothaches require medical treatment as home remedies may only offer temporary relief for the pain while waiting for a dentist or doctor’s appointment if it is more than a dental problem. Essentially, if one is experiencing a toothache, it is first important to find out the root cause of the discomfort, making it easy to determine how best to relieve any pain, swelling, or other symptoms.

According to Emily Cronkleton of Healthline, home remedies like regular salt water rinse, hydrogen peroxide rinse, peppermint tea bags, garlic, and vanilla extracts, because they contain alcohol, which helps numb the pain, cloves, guava leaves, and cold compress application can typically cure minor irritation. However, more serious toothaches may require a dentist’s intervention.

Symptoms that persist for more than a day or two need dental attention as they can provide guidance on how to relieve the symptoms and prevent future pain. Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and those with peculiar medical conditions are advised to consult their doctors or dentists before using any of the home remedies.

For dental treatment, toothache medicines like antibiotics and pain relievers can ease symptoms, although temporarily. Another dental treatment is dental fillings in the case of a small cavity or if a small piece of the tooth has broken off. But for a larger cavity or fracture, dental crowns are done to strengthen and reduce the risk of further damage. Also, tooth extraction, where the dentist removes the tooth from its socket and cleans out any infection, is another dental treatment. 

Toothaches are curable from simple home remedies to extreme dental treatments and they can be prevented to an extent, although they can sometimes occur for reasons out of one’s control.

Experts recommend some things that can reduce the risk of experiencing toothaches. These include brushing the teeth two to three times a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing between the teeth once a day, using an antibacterial mouthwash twice a day, limiting the intake level of sugary foods and drinks, visiting a dentist regularly for examinations and cleanings, as well as requesting for sealants and fluoride treatments from a dentist.

Toothache can either be mild with a small inconvenience or so severe that it disrupts one’s daily life. Whichever it is, maintaining good oral hygiene practices, and seeking professional dental care when experiencing a toothache, rather than trying to self-treat or ignore the problem, cannot be overemphasized as healthy teeth require proper teeth hygiene.