Toothache – no treatment, no gain – Mark Allen Coltene

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  Posted by: Dental Design      2nd June 2018

Toothache remains one of the most prevalent dental problems in the UK, with 29% of Brits thought to suffer from regular dental pain according to the Oral Health Foundation.[1]With this in mind one would think that patient attendance would be much higher throughout the UK, but unfortunately it just isn’t the case.

The latest figures released by the NHS show that 50.9% of the adult population in England was seen by an NHS dentist in the 24 months leading up to 31 December 2017, with 9.7 million courses of treatment carried out in the second quarter of 2017-2018. That’s 129,040 fewer treatments provided than in Q2 of 2016-2017. The statistics have also reaffirmed the growing issue of regional disparities, as people from some parts of England are four times more likely to visit their dentist than others. The region with the highest percentage of adults who visited the dentist in the past two years was found to be Norwich, while areas such as Tower Hamlets, Surrey Heath and North and West Reading had the worst attendance.[2]

The rising cost of NHS dentistry is commonly reported as one of the reasons for poor attendance, and has been recognised as a contributing factor why a great number of patients take problems such as dental pain to their general practitioner (GP). According to research conducted by the British Dental Association, approximately 600,000 people in the UK visit their GP instead of their dentist to avoid treatment charges.[3]That works out to 11,000 patients a week not receiving the treatment they require, as GPs simply aren’t trained to diagnose let alone treat dental pain.

All that GPs can do for these patients is prescribe antibiotics to alleviate the symptoms of infection, which does nothing to target the root of the problem. There are also many more people that receive no form of medical or dental advice at all, instead opting for home and natural remedies. There are a number of alternative treatments that are often used to treat toothache:


Salt water is a natural disinfectant and can help to loosen food particles and debris. As such, a mixture of salt and warm water is the ‘go to’ solution for many patients suffering from toothache.

Ice is renowned for reducing swelling and temporarily easing pain. For that reason it is not uncommon for patients to turn to a bag of frozen peas when toothache strikes.

Garlic, as well as being a common household item, is believed to have natural compounds, which help to kill harmful bacteria and fight pain. Directions from sources promoting the use of garlic as a homely remedy usually recommend that it is either crushed to create a paste before being applied to the affected tooth, or chewed slowly to release the natural compounds.

Clove is another cooking ingredient often used to relieve toothache, as its active ingredient of eugenol is thought to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to alleviate pain. Common recommendations include placing a whole clove in the mouth near the affected tooth or using clove oil, which can be purchased over the counter from a number of beauty and pharmaceutical shops.

Thyme is also supposed to have antibacterial and antioxidant properties that can help to treat toothache. Again, thyme oil can be purchased over the counter from high-street stores.

Painkillers such as paracetamol and aspirin can be used to treat a whole range of ailments, including toothache. Of course, unlike a number of the above remedies there are limits to how many analgesics can be used within a 24-hour time frame and at what intervals.


As a temporary fix homely and natural remedies can be useful, but only by targeting the root cause of the problem will toothache ever be resolved. Quite often, that will entail undergoing a root canal procedure to remove the infected tissue and restore the tooth. To ensure more people receive the correct treatment rather than opt for alternative remedies, a greater focus must be placed on patient education and improving access to services.

What’s more, dentists must do all they can to ensure that root canal therapy (if it is needed) is successful, because if the treatment fails there’s the risk that patients will not return for further treatment. Using first class endodontic products that have been specially designed to help dental professionals achieve quality results can help with this. For an entire range of reliable high-performance endodontic products from rotary files to obturation and sealing materials, contact leading manufacturer, COLTENE.

Toothache will always be a leading dental problem for patients. However, with the right steps and focus on education, improving services and enhancing treatment outcomes, patients will be more incentivised to receive the correct treatment from a qualified professional.


To find out more visit, email call 01444 235486


[1]National Smile Month: Facts and Figures. Accessed online February 27 2018 at

[2]NHS Digital: NHS Dental Statistics for England, 2017-18, Second quarterly report. Published 22 February 2018. Accessed online 27 February 2018 at

[3]British Dental Association: NHS charges masking cuts and driving patients to GPs, say dentists. Published 6 September 2016. Accessed online 27 February 2018 at

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