"Toothache?" I asked, not too gently. "You deserve it. A woman of your age, who would rather go around with an exposed nerve in her head than have the tooth pulled! It would be over in a moment."
The above is from 'Circular Staircase' by Mary Roberts Reinhart. (1908)
The expression itself is not an idiom or slang, and I can't simply understand the meaning of this sentence at all.