The most common cause of toothache is tooth decay. A deep cavity (dental caries) causes irritation in the centre of the tooth (pulp) and makes it ache. Similar pain symptoms can be caused by a deep-reaching tooth filling, strain due to dental occlusion, or a tooth injury.
You can take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol as first aid at home. Cold or hot compression is also worth trying.
When should you seek treatment?
Even if the toothache eases, its cause should always be established. You should seek treatment as soon as possible. If pain is accompanied by marked swelling of the face and/or difficulty swallowing, go immediately to a dental emergency clinic.
A dental cavity is treated by filling it. If the pulp is inflamed, root canal treatment is required. In root canal treatment, the pulp chamber of the tooth will be cleaned thoroughly under local anaesthesia, the root canal(s) will be widened, medicated and filled with root canal filling material. After this, the tooth will be filled as usual. Root canal treatment usually requires several appointments.
Information sources: The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim: Terveysportti, Lääkärin tietokanta database
FSHS Dentist / 29th March 2022