by West Coast Dental
Toothaches affect most of us at some point during our lifetimes. If we are lucky, it will be mild, short-lived and will ease by taking pain medications. However, some people suffer from chronic dental pain that is severe enough to affect the quality of their day-to-day lives. There are many different things that can cause us to experience dental pain, and fortunately, a variety of ways in which we can avoid it. We’ve got the lowdown on understanding the reason for your tooth pain and how to stop it.
Common Causes of Toothache
There are a number of oral issues that can make your teeth hurt. To be able to successfully treat your toothache and prevent further problems that result in dental pain, you first need to understand what’s causing it. Here are some of the most common reasons why you might be experiencing toothache.
Tooth decay is the single most common cause of toothache. There are different types of decay which can occur when improper brushing and flossing enable tooth bacteria and sugars to create plaque acids. Cavities are formed when plaque acids damage the outer enamel of teeth, penetrating the underlying sensitive layer of the tooth called dentin. This leads to pain. If bacteria penetrates the tooth deeply enough to reach the pulp and nerves, it can cause infection of the tooth root which is largely considered to be the most severe form of tooth pain.
Gum disease is also extremely common and is the result of plaque spreading on to the gum tissue. The bacteria present in the plaque creates toxins that inflame and irritate the gums causing the soreness, redness, bleeding and swelling that characterizes the early stage of the disease. Left to progress, the gums can start to recede, and painful infection of tooth-supporting structures and even tooth loss can occur. Gum disease can only be reversed if it is identified and treated promptly.
Teeth may be the hardest substance in the body, but they aren’t infallible. Trauma to the mouth — or decay which has weakened the integrity of a tooth — could result in a chip or crack that affects the sensitive nerves inside causing pain. Similarly, a broken or poorly fitting dental restoration such as a crown or denture could also result in discomfort that has you reaching for pain medication.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are notorious for causing dental pain and are often removed. They are the last teeth to come through, usually in our late teens or early twenties. There’s often not enough space to accommodate them, meaning that they try to force other teeth out of the way as they erupt. If this wasn’t painful enough, sometimes they can become stuck, known as impaction. The surrounding gums can split, enabling bacteria to access the bloodstream and cause painful infections.
Symptoms Associated With Tooth Pain
Toothache isn’t only defined by pain. Depending on the cause of your toothache, you might also experience a range of other symptoms, too. These could include:
- Inflammation of the gums, face and jaw
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus collecting around a tooth
- Obvious damage to a tooth, such as a crack, chip or sudden discoloration
- Pain in the jaw and face
- Discomfort that keeps you awake at night
- Discomfort that is made worse by eating or drinking
How To Stop Tooth Pain
Fortunately, there are many different things you can do in the comfort of your own home that can help to ease your symptoms. Pain medications are often the quickest route to toothache relief with NSAIDS (known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Advil) being particularly effective, especially when there is pain caused by inflammation. Avoiding particularly sweet, cold or hot foods and drinks is also advised because these can irritate any exposed nerves in areas of decay causing extremely sharp and debilitating pain. Hot or cold compresses can provide some temporary relief when held against the side of your face where the toothache is located.
When To Speak to Your Dentist
While the techniques listed above will help to ease your discomfort, treating the root cause of your toothache is the only way to obtain long-term relief. The best person to help you to do this is your dentist. They will be able to confirm the reason that you are experiencing pain and recommend the most effective treatment. Depending on the cause of your toothache, this could include:
- Filling a cavity
- Repairing a broken tooth or restoration
- Root canal treatment to remove infection from the root of a tooth
- Removing severely decayed or damaged teeth
- Scaling and root planing to treat gum disease
- Extraction of your wisdom teeth
Toothache can quickly make life miserable, but fortunately, there are treatments to cure the cause of your problem and make sure that you aren’t in pain for longer than necessary. For more advice on what to do if you have a toothache, or for professional treatment for your dental issue, schedule an appointment at West Coast Dental today.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – Hygiene-related Diseases
California Dental Association (CDA) – Gum Disease
American Association of Endodontists (AAE) – Cracked Teeth
MouthHealthy – Wisdom Teeth