If you’ve ever experienced an extreme toothache, you’re likely familiar with the relentless discomfort it can bring. Extreme tooth pain can significantly impact your daily life, causing both pain and sleepless nights, making the phrase “extreme tooth pain can’t sleep” all too relatable. The severity of the pain can vary, from a dull ache to sharp, excruciating pain, and this discomfort can extend to the jaw, ear, or even the neck.
Beyond physical discomfort, untreated toothaches can severely affect an individual’s health, particularly in children. According to studies, untreated tooth decay, often the cause of toothaches, can have several clinical consequences.
Symptoms of Extreme Toothache
- Severe, persistent pain. This is the most common symptom of an extreme toothache. The pain may be throbbing or constant and is often worse when eating or drinking, especially hot or cold food and beverages.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. Your teeth may become extremely sensitive to temperature changes. This can cause a sharp, sudden pain when you consume hot or cold foods and drinks.
- Swelling around the tooth. A toothache may be accompanied by swelling in the gums around the affected tooth.
- Fever or headache. An extreme toothache could sometimes lead to a fever or headache. This is usually indicative of an infection.
- Bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth. If the cause of the toothache is an infection or abscess, you might experience bad breath or a foul taste in your mouth.
- Difficulty opening your mouth or swallowing. If the toothache has led to an infection that has spread to other areas, you might find it difficult to open your mouth or swallow.
What Causes Extreme Tooth Pain
Toothaches are often indicative of underlying dental issues.
Here are some common causes:
- Tooth decay. This is the most common cause of toothache. Untreated tooth decay can lead to cavities, which expose the sensitive inner layers of your tooth, causing pain.
- Abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. It can result in extreme nerve pain in the tooth and is often accompanied by fever and swelling.
- Tooth fracture. A broken or cracked tooth can cause severe pain, especially when chewing or when the tooth is exposed to extreme temperatures.
- Damaged filling. A damaged or lost filling can expose the sensitive parts of your tooth, leading to discomfort.
- Impacted wisdom teeth. A wisdom tooth extreme pain can be due to impaction. This condition can lead to swelling, difficulty opening your mouth, and pain when chewing or biting. Sometimes, the gums around the top crown of the wisdom tooth can also become infected and swollen, causing extreme pain.
- Grinding teeth (bruxism). Regularly grinding your teeth can wear down the enamel and even cause fractures, leading to tooth pain.
- Sinus pressure. In some cases, what feels like a toothache is actually sinus pain. You may feel pressure on your upper teeth if you have a sinus infection.
- Trigeminal neuralgia: Although uncommon, this specific type of nerve damage can cause severe facial and tooth pain.
- Gum disease. Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It’s typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden. In advanced stages of the disease, these areas can become inflamed and infected, causing pain and discomfort when you chew or bite down, which can feel like a toothache. The gum tissue can also recede, exposing the roots of the teeth, which can lead to sensitivity and pain.
What to Do With Extreme Tooth Pain
When dealing with extreme dental pain, seeking immediate professional help is crucial.
Here are some tips on what to do for extreme tooth pain at home:
- Over-the-counter pain medication. Non-prescription toothache pain relievers like ibuprofen can be temporary extreme tooth pain relief. However, they should not be used as a long-term solution.
- Cold compress or ice pack. Applying a cold pack to the affected area can help reduce swelling and numb the area, providing temporary relief.
- Saltwater rinse. Salt is a natural disinfectant and can help manage inflammation. Mix one teaspoon of salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Swish it around your mouth, ensuring it reaches the affected area. Do this for about 30 seconds before spitting.
- Clove oil. Applying clove oil to the affected area can help numb the pain. Clove oil contains eugenol, which is a natural anesthetic. You can apply it directly or add a drop of clove oil to a small glass of water and use it as a mouthwash.
- Hydrogen peroxide rinse. A rinse with hydrogen peroxide can help kill bacteria, reduce plaque, and heal bleeding gums. Remember to dilute the hydrogen peroxide with equal parts water.
- Peppermint tea bags. Peppermint tea bags can be used to numb pain and soothe sensitive gums. After the tea bag has cooled, apply it to the painful tooth.
- Topical oral anesthetics. Over-the-counter oral gels or ointments can provide temporary relief by numbing the area.
- Clove of garlic. Garlic has been recognized for its medicinal properties for thousands of years. It can kill harmful bacteria that cause dental plaque while also relieving pain. You can crush a few fresh garlic cloves and mix them with a little water to make a paste, which you apply directly to the affected tooth.
- Vanilla extract. The alcohol in vanilla extract is found to help numb pain. Dab a small amount of vanilla extract into a cotton ball and apply it to the affected area.
Remember, these natural remedies only provide temporary pain relief. It’s crucial to seek professional help for a long-term solution.
When Is Toothache an Emergency?
- Persistent toothache. If you have a toothache that lasts more than 1-2 days and is causing you a lot of pain or discomfort, it’s considered a dental emergency.
- Severe pain. A severe toothache that wakes you up at night and is accompanied by severe pain and discomfort could also be a sign of a dental emergency.
- Damaged teeth. Damaged teeth sometimes require emergency treatment if the injury accompanies lots of bleeding and intense pain. This is usually a sign the pulp chamber (the innermost part of the tooth that contains the nerves and blood vessels) has been affected.
- Other symptoms. It is considered a dental emergency for more severe toothaches if symptoms worsen or do not improve relatively quickly. Other symptoms that indicate a dental emergency include a badly cracked tooth, a knocked-out tooth, an extruded (partially dislodged) tooth, or a dental abscess.
What Can an Emergency Dentist Do for Extreme Toothache
Despite natural remedies available, visiting an emergency dentist is the key to completely getting rid of extreme tooth pain. It’s because they are skilled, knowledgeable, experienced, and properly equipped to diagnose and treat the underlying causes of your toothache.
Depending on the cause of the pain, here are a few recommendations they can make on how to help extreme tooth pain:
If the toothache results from tooth decay, the emergency dentist may clean out the decay and then use a filling to restore the tooth.
2. Prescription Medications
Emergency dentists can prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers. Antibiotics are used if there’s an infection, while pain relievers help manage discomfort.
3. Root Canal Therapy
If the tooth’s pulp (the innermost part of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels) is infected or inflamed, a root canal might be needed. This involves removing the damaged pulp, cleaning and disinfecting the inside of the tooth, and then filling and sealing it.
4. Tooth Extraction
In severe cases where the tooth cannot be saved, the dentist might need to perform an extraction. This is usually a last resort when other treatment options have been exhausted or are not suitable.
5. Pain Management and Toothache Prevention Advice
Besides immediate treatments, an emergency dentist can also advise on managing tooth pain at home. They can also provide advice on how to prevent toothaches in the future.
This might include:
- Regular dental check-ups. Regular check-ups and teeth cleanings can prevent problems before they start and catch issues while they are still minor.
- Good oral hygiene. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Healthy diet. Eating a balanced diet and limiting sugary foods, snacks, and beverages can help prevent tooth decay.
- Wearing a mouthguard. If you grind your teeth at night, a mouthguard can help protect your teeth from damage.
The Bottom Line
Experiencing extreme tooth pain is not something to be taken lightly. Emergency dentists are equipped to provide immediate care for serious dental issues, such as severe toothaches, knocked-out teeth, or sudden swelling of the mouth or jaw. They can offer treatments that alleviate pain and address the underlying issue causing the discomfort.
Don’t let a toothache rob you of your peace and health. Seek immediate attention from an emergency dentist, who can provide you with a definitive diagnosis and effective treatment. Remember, prompt action not only alleviates your pain but also preserves your overall oral health.