Beware the Toothworm! Managing a Modern Toothace -- Southcenter Dental

As long as there have been humans, there have been toothaches. Throughout various cultures in ancient times, people believed that the pain in their teeth was caused by a toothworm – a literal worm that found its way into their mouth and bored deep into their teeth. In the eighteenth century, the myth of the toothworm died out, and today we at Southcenter Dental understand the exact causes of toothaches and how to treat the pain involved.

Any pain originating inside the tooth indicates that the nerve of the tooth is irritated. The most common source of this kind of toothache is a cavity, or a hole in the outer layer of the tooth caused by decay. Other common sources of toothache include a broken or cracked tooth, an abscess, an exposed root, an impacted tooth, an erupting tooth, temporomandibular jaw disorder (TMJ), and gum disease. In rare cases, a toothache can be a symptom of a problem outside of the mouth, such as an ear infection, a sinus problem, or even heart disease.

Toothache pain can range from sharp and brief to dull and extended. It may be intensified with exposure to hot, cold, sweet or sour foods. For temporary relief until you can make it in to our office, try the following:

* Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it out
* Carefully remove any particles from between your teeth with dental floss
* Take aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen to ease the pain (Important: never put aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen directly in contact with your gums; this can damage your gum tissue)
* Avoid extremely hot, cold, sweet or sour foods
* Apply an over-the-counter numbing gel to the tooth
* Soak a cotton ball or swab in clove oil (available in most pharmacies) and bite down on it

A toothache is a symptom of a dental or other kind of medical problem, so make an appointment with us immediately. Dr. Baruffi will conduct a complete examination, including x-rays if necessary, to determine the cause of your toothache.

Because cavities are a very common cause of toothache, the best way to avoid one is to maintain your oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to our office for professional cleanings and examinations.

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