A young mother having a bad toothache ended up getting diagnosed with a brain tumour. As per reports, Emma Webster, 29, of North Lanarkshire, was rushed for root canal surgery after she complained of a sore tooth. The surgery, however, couldn’t help her from stabbing pain and blurred vision. After a series of misdiagnoses, she was prescribed an MRI which showed the cancerous ball behind her right eye. While the connection between a toothache and cancer seems rather distant but cases like these have shown the contrary.
The most common symptom that makes people visit a dentist for the first time, is a toothache that is hard to manage at home. While a toothache is mostly caused by some common dental conditions like a tooth cavity, sometimes the cause of pain could be a lot more than that. Hence, the pain must not be ignored and must receive attention at the earliest.
What does a toothache feel like?
A toothache can be caused by anything from accidentally smashing your toothbrush against your tooth to a broken tooth or some bacterial infection. In rare cases, it could also be a symptom of some underlying illness like salivary gland cancer and other life-threatening conditions. The very first step is to understand what this pain might feel like. Toothaches can strike at any time of the day. Sometimes it can be dull and persistent, at other times it can be sharp and throbbing. The pain gets worse with the tooth getting touched by food items having extreme temperatures, too hot or too cold. In some cases, it might come along with a bad headache or the jaw around the affected tooth might see some tenderness. For some, fever can accompany the pain.
Know your pain: It has some kinds
The experience of a toothache can be different for all. Broadly, you must be on the lookout for three kinds of pain:
- Dull, lingering pain is the most prevalent type. The cause might be some food debris stuck between the teeth, something lodged in the gum, an abscessed tooth (pus caused by some bacterial infection ), or teeth grinding.
- Sensitivity can also cause the ache. If the pain is mild, the issue is often a worn-down enamel but if the sensitivity is more painful and persists for a longer time, then the cause could be more serious like tooth decay, crack or gum disease.
- If the pain is sharp, then it necessitates a visit to the dentist. Such pain might be caused by a loose filling or a fallen crown. In case of no filling or crown, the pain could also be caused by fracture or decay.
- If the throbbing pain comes along with discoloured gums, bleeding gums, or a strange taste in the mouth, prompt dental care is required in such conditions.
How can you manage your toothache?
For temporary toothache relief, you can rinse your mouth with salt water or hydrogen peroxide. You can also take cold compressions or can consume over-the-counter available painkillers to subside the pain. Peppermint tea and garlic are also known to provide relief. However, if the pain is persistent and progressive, it would be advisable to see a dentist at the earliest. If the cause of the pain is a cavity, your attending dentist might go for a cavity fill, or a root canal or in some cases, a tooth removal. They might also prescribe you an antibiotic if there is a fever or swelling of the jaw.
Toothaches and dental visits: Can save you from life-threatening conditions
Dentists are trained in screening for oral cancer and other mouth maladies. A visit to the dentist means a good examination of your tongue, the roof of the mouth, gums, floor of the mouth and throat. While examining the cause of your toothache, they might also look for suspicious lumps on your head or neck.
While most of the time these checkups won’t find anything unusual but in rare conditions, they can save your life.
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