When you experience a Toothache the main culprit is usually some form of tooth decay affecting the mouth or jaw. Essentially, it is the inflammation in your dental pulp, the innermost layer of your teeth, which results in notable pain.
Because this area of the tooth is made up of soft tissue which includes sensitive nerves and blood vessels, the pain can come on suddenly and may vary from mild to severe throbbing. The pain is often worse at night and can be very disruptive to other daily routines such as mealtimes, as eating or drinking can worsen the pain worse, especially with hot or cold sensations.
Still other conditions that do not affect the dental pulp but still result in some level of pain include ulcers which form along your gums, sore gums when a new tooth his breaking through (such as wisdom or adult teeth), sinus inflammation, and jaw injuries.
For temporary pain relief you can use a number of at home remedies such as over the counter painkillers, numbing gels, salt water rinses, cold compresses, etc. Another popular method which has been used for centuries is to treat a toothache by soaking a cotton ball in hard liquor and apply it gently to the tooth causing you pain.
Any pain lasting more than a day or two requires a visit to your dentist. The sooner the better since, left untreated, a mild toothache can worsen to the point of severe infection. When this happens, the pulp inside your tooth can decay to the point of dental abscess.
After a full examination of your mouth and immediate surrounding areas, your dentist will ask you a series of questions, conduct an X-ray to identify the problem, then determine the proper course of action.
For example, if he or she determines that your toothache is the result of tooth decay (aka- a cavity), it will be removed and replaced with a filling.
Should you experience a loose or broken filling, your dentist will remove the partial filling, clean the affected area, and put a new filling in its place.
The most serious case is when the bacteria has worked its way into the innermost portions of the tooth and infection has spread to the pulp or nerve, at which point a root canal treatment may be required. One your dentist removes the infected pulp, he or she will fill the space with a paste and seal the area by covering the tooth with a crown.
With proper hygiene and regular, bi-annual visits to the dentist, you can help prevent serious oral surgeries and infections that cause toothaches.