Shehu Abdul often felt sharp pain in his teeth whenever he took any cold drink, hot water or tea. But he couldn’t visit the dentist even when his wife suggested it because he was afraid that the affected tooth would be removed. He had heard how painful the tooth removal process was and didn’t want to go through the ordeal.
He endured the pain for a long time before visiting the hospital.
A medical expert and Head of the Dental Unit, Nyanya General Hospital, Abuja, Dr Albert Akhidenor said, tooth extraction was not the only solution for toothache, and that the fear about tooth extraction was unfounded.
He said there were other available and affordable treatment options for toothache and diseases aside extraction.
He said: “There is no need to be worried or scared because toothache does not always need tooth removal. Before now, the only solution for toothache was extraction but dentistry has gone beyond that.
“The treatment modality is dependent on the cause of the toothache. That is why people should see a dentist when they have toothache; so that the cause will be diagnosed and appropriate treatment option offered.”
HAWAII Dental Family defined toothache as a pain in the teeth and their supporting structures that may be due to dental problems or reflective pain to the teeth due to other diseases.
Toothache can be an indication of a possible infection or inflammation. Toothaches may feature a dull ache or sharp pain, resulting in the tooth’s sensitivity.
Dental pain can be caused by dental caries, trauma, or medical problems that can cause disease or illness of the oral mucosal or gingival mucosa.
Dr Albert said, there are different causes of toothache which could either be due to trauma, accident or infection but the most common reason is dental caries where there is hole in the tooth which causes pain and could make chewing really painful.
“This is when people chew mistakenly or bite a piece of bone or stone from food. When there is an accident and the tooth gets broken, it could also result in toothache. When there is tooth hole and the hole is too deep and gets into the dentine, toothache could occur,” he said.
According to him, the treatment option depends on the cause of the toothache or the patient. “For instance, if it is caries, after radiographic investigation, there are different types of restorations that can be put in place depending on how bad it is. We make use of advanced restorations to ensure that the tooth is preserved for long.”
Dr Albert said everyone should have a routine tooth check at least twice a year. He said some categories of people need to do it between two to four times a year, especially smokers or those that have a huge intake of chocolate or sugary things.
“When you visit a dentist to have your tooth check, the appropriate treatment option could be done. But one thing we should know is that, toothache doesn’t just start; when the caries are very tiny, there is no pain and because there is no pain people don’t take note.
“A root canal might be needed if the cause of the toothache is determined to be an infection of the tooth’s nerve. Bacteria that have worked their way into the inner aspects of the tooth cause such an infection. An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is fever or swelling of the jaw.”
If there is toothache due to sensitivity, the dentist has to detect whether the pain is due to wearing of the enamel which is the hardest covering over the tooth surface.
“If we know the cause of the sensitivity or toothache we can proffer a good treatment option. For instance, if it is due to sensitivity, there are desensitizing tooth pastes and chemicals available that can be used to manage that.
“And since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, following good oral hygiene practices can prevent toothaches. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly at least twice daily with a fluoridecontaining toothpaste, flossing once daily, rinsing once or twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash, and seeing your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning.
“We also encourage patients to pay attention because when they start having pain it shows that things are really bad because pain is your body’s response when the body is under threat and it shows that your tooth is crying out for help.”
Dr Albert advised everyone one to brush their teeth at least twice a day after meal and before going to bed at night.
“I advise my patients to brush after breakfast if they had it, or in the morning and also brush in the night after dinner before going to bed. I advise parents to supervise the brushing of their children’s teeth twice a day even to the age of seven. If your children are below seven please ensure that you brush their teeth for them and when they are above seven, you can leave them to do that themselves.
“Also, avoid the use of tooth picks when there are stuffs stuck in between your teeth and make use of dental floss and. Also in this COVID-19 era, make use of your face mask and always make sure you rinse your mouth to keep your breath fresh. It is also very important to see your dentist.”
He said people should go to any clinic that has a recognised dental service provider whenever they have issues with their teeth and not patronize quacks or those that offer to sell chemicals to them. “Avoid them,” he warned.