Often an indication of tooth decay, a toothache may also be a symptom of infection such as gum disease, an abscess (a pus-filled sac surrounding the root of a tooth), or sinusitis (seepage 226). The pain may be sharp and shooting or dull and throbbing; it may be continuous, come in waves, or occur only when a decayed tooth comes into contact with sweet foods, or very hot or very cold foods.

SELF-HELP Rub oil of cloves on the affected tooth and surrounding gums, except when taking a homeopathic remedy, in which case the oil may act as an antidote.

CAUTION If a toothache is accompanied by fever and swelling of the gums or face, or if a tooth feels loose, see a dentist within 12 hours. If a tooth is sensitive to hot or cold, and to sweet foods and drinks, or if there is pain on biting, see a dentist within 48 hours.



Toothache with severe, shooting pain

• Oversensitivity to agonizing pain that causes restlessness and thrashing around

• Pain makes sleeping difficult

• Jerking, tearing pain

Toothache with unbearable pain

• Agonizing pain

• Swollen, red cheek on the same side of the face as a decayed tooth

• In young children, symptoms may be associated with teething

Toothache with throbbing pain

• Gums and cheeks are swollen and hot and painful to the touch

• Shooting pains extend to the ear

• Waves of pain that increase in severity to become excruciating before subsiding

Bleeding gums with halitosis

• Gums are tender, spongy, and bleed easily

• Excessive production of saliva, which dribbles on to the pillow during sleep

• Teeth may feel loose

Swollen, bleeding gums with ulcers

• Teeth are very sensitive to heat and cold

• Possible mouth ulcers or cold sores with cracks at the corner of the mouth

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