Teeth are the hardest part of the human body. They are essential for eating, speech and give shape to the face of a person. A tooth is divided into three parts i.e., the crown, which is the part that projects into the mouth, the neck and the root, which is the part that descends below the gum line into the jaws. A tooth is seen to have the following layers:-
Enamel- It is the outer most, white and the hardest part of the tooth. It is made up of calcium phosphate.
Dentin- It is also a hard layer beneath the enamel and contains microscopic tubes. In cases when the enamel is damaged, heat or cold is able to enter the tooth through these channels and result in tooth sensitivity and pain.
Pulp- This layer consists of the blood vessels and nerves and is the soft living structure of the tooth.
Cementum- This layer is made up of connective tissue and firmly binds the roots of the tooth to the gums and jawbone.
A normal adult person has 32 teeth. These teeth in the oral cavity are mainly of four types depending on the shape and functions they perform. These are:-
Incisors- These are 8 teeth in the front center to bite food.
Canines- These are 4 sharpest teeth in the mouth to tear food.
Premolars- These are 8 teeth in the mouth with a flat biting surface to tear and crush food.
Molars- These are 12 largest teeth in the mouth with a flat biting surface to grind, tear and crush food. Typically during their lifetime, people are found to have two sets of teeth. The primary or deciduous teeth are the first teeth to erupt in the oral cavity. They are 20 in number. They begin to erupt at the age of six months and continue until twenty-five to thirty-three months of age. However, some babies have teeth eruption when as young as three months and others not until they are a year old. These teeth then get exfoliated as the permanent teeth erupt.
Permanent teeth comprise of 32 teeth. It takes about six years for children to get their primary teeth replaced by permanent teeth between the ages of 6- 12 years.
It is more important to have a symmetry that is the same teeth coming at the same time on both sides than the time the teeth emerge.
Toothache means pain in or around a tooth.
CAUSES OF TOOTHACHE
Common causes of toothache are:-
- Tooth decay- also called cavities, refers to damage to a tooth. It can affect the enamel or the outer layer of the tooth and dentin or the inner layer of the tooth. It occurs when foods with carbohydrates such as bread, milk, fruit, sweets, or cereal stay on the teeth. These are then turned into acids by the bacteria in the mouth. This acid then combines with saliva to form plaques that stick to the teeth and dissolve the enamel creating holes called cavities.
- Abscessed tooth- It is a pocket of pus that is formed around the root of an infected tooth. The inside of the tooth contains a pulp that is made up of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. It gets infected due to a deep cavity, gum disease, or a cracked tooth. When this infection is not timely treated, it damages the pulp and leads to an abscess.
- Tooth fracture
- Damage to fillings- Fillings are materials used to treat dental cavities, repair wore out teeth due to nail-biting or teeth grinding and repair cracked or broken down teeth. When they get damaged e.g., when one bites down on something hard or is hit in the mouth, it can lead to irritation or infection of the unprotected tooth. This, in turn, leads to toothache.
- Repetitive motions e.g., chewing gum or grinding teeth on a regular basis, can fracture or loosen the teeth or may wear the teeth down to stumps.
- Infected gums- If not properly treated, destroys the tissue that surrounds the teeth leading to toothache and even tooth loss.
SYMPTOMS OF TOOTHACHE
Symptoms of a toothache may include:-
- Sharp and throbbing tooth pain that may be constant or only when pressure is applied to teeth.
- Fever or headache with pain
- Swelling around the tooth
- Foul tasting saliva from the infected tooth
- Therefore it is advisable that if someone is having a toothache that longs for more than a day or two or if the it is severe and accompanied with fever, earache or pain when mouth wide open, he/she must see a dentist as soon as possible. This is important to prevent the potential spread of infection to other parts of face or even the bloodstream.
PREVENTION OF TOOTHACHE
Since it is seen that most of the cases of toothache result from tooth decay, following steps for good oral hygiene can prevent this tooth decay. Good oral hygiene practices include:-
- Brushing teeth twice a day, once in the morning on waking and again at night before sleeping.
- Using a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
- Flossing teeth once daily.
- Rinsing teeth once or twice on a daily basis with an antiseptic mouthwash.
- Consulting one’s dentist twice a year for professional cleaning.
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar.
Homeopathic treatment of toothache
Treatment of toothache depends on the cause. In some cases of dental cavities, filling of the damaged tooth or even tooth extraction becomes necessary. Similarly, in some cases of severe infection of the tooth’s nerve, a root canal might be needed. In other cases, there are many homeopathic medicines that have been found effective and safe in treating toothache due to various dental conditions. Well-selected homeopathic remedies are found to be as effective as painkillers and antibiotics in the treatment of various dental problems yet without any side effects. There are specific homeopathic medicines for toothache and tooth extraction that are used for pathological prescribing, where one specifically treats the disease or ailment. Also, there are homeopathic remedies for toothache that are indicated for constitutional homeopathic prescribing. These are prescribed after analyzing a patient’s physical and behavioral disposition and tendencies. These medicines help to remove the tendency for toothache due to various causes, found to be occurring despite good dental practices. Best homeopathic medicine for any condition is the one most similar to disease manifestation for which symptoms belonging to both mental and physical spheres are elicited by a trained homeopathic physician. The homeopathic medicinal treatment has been seen to help avoid the need for tooth extraction in various cases. Also, in severe cases where tooth extraction is unavoidable homeopathic remedies help to deal with several general post-surgical effects including pain, inflammation, bruising, bleeding and infection.
Common medicines used in dental homeopathy are:-
ANTIMONIUM CRUDUM- It is used for toothache in hollow teeth that is worse at night and aggravated by heat. Also, there is a tendency of gums detaching from teeth and bleeding easily. The person requiring this medicine is found to crave pickles and have a thickly white-coated tongue as if whitewashed.
ARNICA MONTANA- It is indicated for pain due to injury. It is the top homeoapthic medicine for tooth extraction.
BELLADONNA- It is indicated for throbbing pain in teeth and gumboil. There is a tendency for grinding of teeth.
CALCAREA CARBONICA- It is used for toothache that is excited by the current of air and anything that is hot or cold on coming in contact with teeth. There is bleeding from gums and offensive smell from mouth. It is also a very useful medicine for difficult and delayed dentition. This medicine is also frequently used for constitutional homeopathic prescribing, impaired nutrition being the keynote of its action. Patients requiring this remedy have pituitary and thyroid dysfunctions resulting in increased local and general sweat, swelling of glands, scrofulous and rachitic conditions, tickling cough, fleeting chest pain, nausea, acidity and dislike of fat, easy breathlessness and a jaded mental and physical state due to overwork.
CHAMOMILLA- it is indicated for toothache that is worse from taking anything warm, coffee and during pregnancy. As a person, the patient is very irritable and snappish. The child can only be quieted when carried about and petted constantly.
CHEIRANTHUS – It is used for deafness, otorrhoea, stopped up nose at night, all due to irritation of cutting wisdom teeth.
CUPRUM METALLICUM- It is indicated when a toothache is temporarily relieved by holding cold water in the mouth.
MAGNESIA CARBONICA- It is used for toothache that appears especially during pregnancy. Teeth feel too long. This toothache is worse at night, from exposure to cold and when quiet, thus compelling the patient to move about.
MAGNESIA PHOSPHORICA- It is indicated for toothache that gets better by heat and hot fluids. It is used for complaints of teething children, especially when there are spasms of children without febrile symptoms.
PLANTAGO MAJOR- It is suited for toothache that is worse from cold and contact and better while eating. There is a profuse flow of saliva and reflex neuralgia of eyelids.