A computer-assisted telephone interview in Maryland of adults who had low income and were Hispanic, Black, and White and who had experienced a toothache during the previous 12 months was conducted. Respondents reported a high prevalence of toothaches, with 44.3% having experienced more than five toothaches during the preceding 10 years. Pain intensity associated with the most recent toothache was high with 45.1% of the respondents reporting the highest pain possible. Pain interfered with many aspects of normal functioning. Self-care strategies generally took precedence over professional health services. Pain sufferers used a combination of self-care and formal care strategies. Initial strategies most often focused on nonprescription medicines(home remedies and prayer). The majority of respondents ultimately sought pain relief from a dentist. We identified a number of significant differences in the strategies used across racial ethnic groups.
Toothache pain: Behavioral impact and self-care strategies