No matter how conscientious you are about your oral care routine, at some point in your life you will probably experience the discomfort of a toothache. Though a cavity is the most likely culprit, it is only one of several possible causes of toothaches. And treatment has come a long way since ‘Cocaine Toothache Drops’!
- Tooth Sensitivity: If you are experiencing sharp pains when eating or drinking hot or cold foods, it could mean you have a cavity. It may also be a sign that you may have sensitive teeth, either from receding gums or from a thinning of your tooth enamel. If you have had deep decay and recently had crown or a very deep filling to remove the decay and repair the tooth, this can cause sensitivity. In this case, it’s not the fault of the crown or filling – when decay is very deep and close to the nerve, Dr. Still must remove the decay and this can sometimes lead to a root canal because the decay has inflamed and possibly infected the nerve. While you are waiting for a dental appointment to confirm the cause of your sensitive teeth, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth may help ease the symptoms.
- Some Toothaches Are More Severe: If the pain you are experiencing is a sharp, stabbing pain when you bite down on your food, the cause of your toothache could be a cavity or a cracked tooth. If it’s a throbbing, incessant pain, on the other hand, you may have an abscessed tooth or an infection that should be taken care of as quickly as possible. Dr. Still will always work you in if you are in pain, so call right away.
- It Might Not Even Be Your Teeth: One less common, but significant cause of tooth pain is a sinus infection. If only your upper teeth on both sides of your face are in pain, sinusitis could be the culprit. This sort of toothache is usually accompanied or preceded by nasal congestion and tenderness around your sinuses. If you suspect this is the cause of your tooth pain, you may wish to see your doctor. If your pain is more identifiable as jaw pain, it may be caused by temporomandibular disorders caused by a direct injury or trauma to the jaw, by tooth grinding (bruxism), or by arthritis or cancer affecting the jaw. If your wisdom teeth have not been removed, impacted molars could also be causing you jaw pain.
- See Dr. Still to Be Sure: Toothaches are not always severe. Intermittent pain may seem like just an inconvenience and not worth an immediate call to the dental office, but waiting until the pain becomes worse is rarely the best option. Whatever the type and severity of your tooth pain, it is best to call your dentist and make an appointment. The causes of toothaches are not always clear, and a conclusive diagnosis as to the source of the pain and subsequent professional treatment is always the best course of action.
- How is a Tooth Treated: Still with take an X-ray of the offending tooth and can usually diagnose the cause right away. In most cases, you will be given an antibiotic and then be referred to a specialist – either an Endodontist who may have to do a root canal to save the tooth or sometimes if the infection is due to bone loss or a cracked tooth, it will lead to a referral to an Oral Surgeon, who will remove the tooth.
- How Can Toothaches Be Prevented? Since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, following good oral hygiene practices can prevent toothaches. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing once daily, rinsing once or twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash, and seeing Dr. Still at least twice a year for professional cleaning and exam.
Credits: Colgate.com, WebMD.com