No matter the cause, toothaches are miserable. Even those with the most diligent oral healthcare routines can fall victim to the pesky, unrelenting pain — so it’s important to understand different causes and treatments. Unlike some other aches and pains in the body, toothaches are incredibly unlikely to resolve themselves and can often lead to bigger issues if left untreated.
Top 5 Causes of Toothaches
Tooth Decay (Cavities)
The most common cause of toothaches is cavities. Once decay reaches the inner layer (dentin) of the tooth, the tooth becomes incredibly sensitive. When the pain becomes sharper and more localized, the decay has probably reached the center of the tooth, which should be addressed as quickly as possible.
When tooth decay is left untreated, the decay will start affecting the root beneath the visible tooth. When the root and surrounding tissue become infected, the resulting widespread pain can make it difficult to identify the exact tooth causing the problem. A tooth abscess is an incredibly serious and should be dealt with as quickly as possible to prevent further bone and tissue loss.
Red, bleeding gums and dull pain in the mouth are a classic red flag for gum disease. Leaving oral bone and gum inflammation untreated can cause huge problems for your gums, teeth, and oral bones. In extreme cases, surgical measures are taken to rid the mouth of infection if left untreated, so be sure to see your dentist as soon as possible to address the issue.
Cracks or chips in your teeth have tons of different causes, from playing sports to biting into something hard. Pain from tooth fractures starts when the crack reaches the nerve endings in the middle of the tooth but isn’t always felt right away. Small cracks don’t always immediately result in pain, but worsening of the tooth damage can eventually affect the nerve endings. Visit your dentist right away to take care of even the smallest chips and avoid further damage.
While arguably one of the most annoying causes of toothaches, tooth sensitivity isn’t as emergent as some of the other causes. Shooting pains from your teeth after eating something extremely cold or hot is caused by wearing of the tooth’s enamel to the point that the dentin is exposed. When extreme temperatures come into contact with the dentin, it causes sharp pain in the mouth. There are several at-home remedies that can work for tooth sensitivity, but if they are unsuccessful, your dentist can suggest more aggressive treatments.
Treating a Toothache
The safest course of action is to visit your dentist right away if the pain in your tooth lasts longer than one or two days or if the pain is incredibly severe. Because there are so many causes of toothaches, quickly identifying the problem is essential to successfully preventing any further damage to your mouth. Your dentist will go through your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and ask questions about the type of pain and when it started. After examining your teeth, gums, jaw, tongue, throat, sinuses, ears, nose, and neck, x-rays might also be taken to get a better look at the problem. Finally, once the cause of the ache is identified, your dentist will work with you to create the best plan of action to fix the problem as quickly as possible.
Preventing a Toothache
The actual treatment for your toothache will largely depend on the cause, but there are some ways you can work to prevent future aches. As the most common cause of toothaches is tooth decay, good oral hygiene practices go a long way in keeping your mouth pain-free. Brush your teeth regularly with a fluoride toothpaste, get in the habit of flossing every night, and rinse a few times a day with antiseptic mouthwash. Visiting your dentist twice a year can also play a huge part in catching potential problems early before they progress into toothaches.
Do You Have a Toothache?
If your toothache has been pestering you for more than two days, it’s time to see a dentist. At Cornerstone Family Dentistry in Nashville, we offer comprehensive oral health exams that are sure to find the cause of any toothaches you might have. Our bilingual staff is dedicated to providing you with a comfortable, relaxing experience for even the most dentist-phobic customer — having someone poke around in your mouth is scary, we understand. Schedule an appointment today and let us take care of you.