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A dental cavity is the most common cause of tooth pain or toothache.

A cavity will form when bacteria in your mouth turn into acids. This bacteria and acid along with food debris and your saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel, creating holes called cavities.

Another common cause for toothache is gum disease. This is caused by inflammation of the gums that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The very same bacteria that can cause cavities are also responsible for plaque, a sticky, colourless film that constantly forms on your teeth and along the gum margin. However it also worth mentioning that gum disease can sometimes be painless so another sign for gum disease is if your gums bleed when you brush or floss.

Cracked tooth or Cracked Tooth Syndrome can at times be the cause of tooth pain. This is where a tooth has incompletely cracked but no part of the tooth has yet broken off.

A dental abscess, or tooth abscess can also be painful and this is due to an accumulation of pus forming inside the tooth or gums. An abscess typically originates from a bacterial infection, often one that has accumulated in the soft pulp of the tooth.

Sometimes, fillings or crowns fall out. In some cases, a filling or crown may come loose because there is decay underneath it. The decay destroys part of the tooth and therefore no longer has a tight hold on the crown or filling. This is rarely an emergency, but it can be painful because the exposed tooth tissue can often be sensitive to pressure, air or hot and cold temperatures.

What is tooth pain ?

Tooth pain, commonly known as a toothache is pain felt around the teeth or jaws and directly relates to a dental medical condition. This pain is letting you know that something is wrong. Most cases of toothache are caused by tooth or gum problems, however there are rare cases when disorders of the jaw joint can cause toothache or sinus infections have also be known to mimic a toothache. The degree of pain felt by a toothache can range from chronic and mild to sharp and excruciating. Both temperature and chewing can aggravate tooth pain. To determine the cause and source of the pain, a thorough oral examination and dental X-rays may be ordered by the dentist to rule out other non-dental problem.

What types of tooth pain do you have?

When tooth pain occurs most people describe the pain as either sharp or dull.

Sharp pain is usually caused by :

  • Decay at the gum line
  • A space between a crown or filling at the gum line
  • crown or filling that is too high
  • A cracked or broken tooth
  • Grinding and/or clenching
  • Cold temperatures

This type of pain is usually short lived, rarely lingering, however relief should be sort as soon as possible by visiting your dentist to investigate the cause. If left untreated these types of dental problems can quickly become much bigger, more difficult to treat and therefore more expensive.

Dull tooth pain usually originates from the nerve/pulp of the tooth and this is the more serious type of pain and usually means the nerve inside the tooth has been begun to die – this is irreversible. Hot drinks such as coffee, tea or soup can trigger dull tooth pain. This type of pain will usually be felt for a significant period of time, coming and going and lingering on. To relieve this problem a root canalprocedure or an extraction may be the only solution.

What alternatives can you use for a toothache?

Cavities, an abscess, a cracked tooth, loose fillings or a sinus condition can all bring on a toothache. So what kinds of things can you do until you can see your dentist ?

Here are a few home remedies that may provide temporary toothache relief. Again, please pay special attention to the wording here – may provide temporary pain relief !!!


Cloves are traditionally known as a remedy for numbing nerves, the primary chemical compound of this spice is Eugenol and is a natural anesthetic. Clove oil must be used carefully as it has also been known to actually worsen the pain if you get it on sensitive gum tissue or on your tongue. It is recommended that you place two drops of clove oil on a cotton ball and put the cotton ball against the tooth itself until the pain recedes.

Ginger/Cayenne mixture

Mix a small amount of equal parts of these two spices with enough water to make a paste. Put enough paste onto a cotton ball and then place it on your tooth while avoiding your gums and tongue. Leave it until the pain fades. This may sting or burn slightly so remove it as soon as you feel these sensations. Both of these spices are known to be potent painkillers. The main chemical component of cayenne—capsaicin—has been found to help block pain messages from reaching the brain.

Saltwater solution

A teaspoon of ground Himalayan Pink Salt dissolved in a cup of boiled water makes a pain-killing mouthwash, which will clean away irritating debris and help reduce swelling. After allowing the water and salt solution to cool, swish it around for about half a minute before spitting it out. Salt water cleanses the area around the tooth and draws out some of the fluid that causes swelling. Repeat this treatment as often as required.

Hydrogen peroxide

This helps to kill bacteria and may relieve some of the discomfort, swish with a mouthful of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution – which is only for rinsing so spit it out and then rinse several times with plain water. This may provide temporary relief if the toothache is accompanied by fever or a foul taste in the mouth, which are both signs of an infection – so please remember as with all of these remedies, they are only a stopgap measure until you see your dentist and get the source of the pain cleared up.

Ice cubes

Put some small ice cubes in a cloth and place this onto your cheek, over the painful tooth. Also folklore says if you massage your hand with an ice cube, you can help relieve a toothache. When nerves in your fingers send “cold” signals to your brain, they may override the pain signals coming from your tooth. With the cubes of ice wrapped in a thin cloth, massage the fleshy area between your thumb and forefinger.


Simmer 1 teaspoon of powdered myrrh in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes. Strain and let cool. With this solution dilute 1 teaspoon of the tincture in half a cup of water and rinse five to six times a day. The astringent effects of myrrh help with inflammation and offer the added benefit of killing bacteria.


Try this acupressure technique for pain. With your thumb, press the point on the back of your other hand where the base of your thumb and your index finger meet. Apply pressure for about two minutes. This helps trigger the release of endorphins, the brain’s feel-good hormones. (Absolutely DO NOT do this if you’re pregnant)


  • Avoid chewing on the area of pain
  • Inflammation style pain relievers may help to temporarily reduce pain.
  • Brushing and flossing to remove any food particles can help to relieve irritations.

And remember – any tooth pain is a warning sign that something is wrong so please consult with your dentist as soon as possible !

Call Dr Matthew Clougher at the Dental Pod on 6234 5114

Because it’s time you thought differently about your dental health.