When Should You See A Dentist For Tooth Pain?

If you're someone who has managed to avoid instances of tooth pain throughout your life, consider yourself lucky. Over two-fifths of American adults have reported experiencing some form of mouth pain, including cavities and gum disease. Despite being preventable, cavities affect over 90% of American adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Considering how important healthy teeth are and how tooth pain can not only make life very uncomfortable but also turn into a serious health issue if not addressed, it's no wonder that the dentistry profession has a long history. In fact, dentistry has been around in some form since 5,000 B.C., with origins dating back even two thousand years before then, per American Dental Education Association (ADEA).

Around the fourth and fifth centuries B.C. in ancient Greece, Hippocrates — considered the father of modern medicine — and Aristotle showed some understanding of dentistry, writing about ways to treat tooth decay. However, it wasn't until the 16th century that the first book on dentistry ​​was published. Two centuries later, dentistry had evolved into a more explicit profession, with French surgeon Pierre Fauchard earning the moniker "the father of modern dentistry." Roughly another hundred years went by until the first dental college, the Baltimore College of Dentistry was established. From there, more dental colleges and dental practices came onto the scene, leading to Colgate mass-producing the first toothpaste in 1873, followed by toothbrushes a few years later, per ADEA.

Tooth pain: causes, treatments and prevention

Though dental hygiene has come a long way since 5,000 B.C., tooth pain can still disrupt people's lives and can be caused by a number of factors besides tooth decay, such as a tooth fracture, an infection, consistent teeth grinding or infected gums, among others, per WebMD. Obviously, pain or throbbing are symptoms that something is wrong, but swelling or a foul taste from your tooth, or even a fever or a headache are indicators that you could be experiencing an infection that needs a dentist's attention.

Yet, sometimes a toothache can simply be due to an issue you can resolve at home, such as a popcorn hull stuck in your teeth or if your gums are temporarily irritated. Some home remedies you can try include rinsing with warm salt water or hydrogen peroxide putting a cold compress on the affected area; managing the discomfort with over-the-counter pain medications, such as Advil; or applying herbal treatments, such as clove oil, per Cleveland Clinic.

Still, if you experience severe pain or swelling that persists for more than two days, it is crucial that you visit a dentist to determine if you have a cavity that needs filling or if your issue requires a more involved procedure, such as a root canal

To avoid these types of unpleasant circumstances, be sure to maintain good dental hygiene practices, which means brushing regularly, flossing daily, seeing your dentist every six months, and taking it easy on sweets, per Cleveland Clinic.