Toothache – Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

  • Dental Health   •   Jun 22, 2018

A toothache brings great pain and discomfort that needs professional handling. It is a common dental problem that is caused by numerous reasons. You can experience a toothache even if you take the best care of your oral health. Knowing what causes a toothache and how to handle it can help you get it treated in the most eminent way.

What is a Toothache?

A toothache is a severe or mild pain in the nerves running through and under your tooth. Such a pain occurs when these nerves get damaged or infected resulting in an irritated tooth. Besides tooth cavity, there are numerous other causes of a toothache.

Teeth are 96% non-organic hydroxyapatite or crystallized calcium phosphate. They are the hardest organic parts of the body with an outer enamel layer of a bony mass, known as dentin. Underneath it is a healthy pulp containing nerves and blood vessels. When the pulp within the tooth gets infected or damaged, then this causes big trouble to the nerves. Eventually, it results in a toothache.

Symptoms of toothache

Determining toothaches right away can be crucial to your oral health. Whether the pain in your tooth is mild or severe, you must be concerned and get your oral health evaluated about the tooth pain. Consult a dentist immediately if you notice one or more such symptoms, as they are indications to a toothache:

  • Headaches or fever
  • Constant or irregular pain in the tooth
  • Lingering or sharp pain in the tooth when you consume anything too hot or too cold
  • Swelling around tooth
  • Pain while chewing food
  • Swollen gums
  • Awful taste in the mouth
  • Pain while applying pressure to the tooth

Causes of toothache

A toothache develops overtime, and there are different causes pertaining to it.

  1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay occurs when the plaque breaks the enamel surface of your tooth. As a result, it causes a cavity that exposes sensitive pulp to harsh external factors. You may have tooth decay if you feel throbbing pain when drinking or eating, especially too cold or hot beverages and food.

Your dentist will remove damaged or decayed part of the tooth and substitute it with white filling. If the damage is severe, your dentist would perform a root canal treatment and repair the badly decayed tooth pulp.

  1. Cracked Tooth

There are various reasons for a tooth to become damaged. A cracked tooth leads to sharp pain while chewing food. In most of the cases, one is not able to see a cracked tooth through the naked eye. In this condition, your dentist would examine the damage through an X-ray and would suggest an appropriate treatment.

  1. Damaged Filling

If you have to get filling done earlier and it has got damaged, you would experience a toothache. Your dentist would clear the area and place a new filling to rectify this problem.

  1. Worn Enamel

You may develop tooth sensitivity when your tooth enamel has gradually worn down. Besides using toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive tooth, you must talk to your dentist regarding restorative treatments to cure the problem.

  1. Abscessed Tooth

Regular and severe tooth pain indicates the presence of an infected or abscessed tooth. It is vital to get such a tooth treated by your dentist at the earliest. If an abscessed tooth is left untreated, then this could result in a bone loss. Hence, immediate professional assistance is needed to prevent bone loss.

  1. Teeth Grinding

Some people have a habit of grinding their teeth occasionally or when stressed. Even lots of individuals grind their teeth when asleep. This puts lots of pressure on the teeth and results in wearing down of the enamel. The condition can lead to a toothache. You must consult your dentist who would suggest you a number of treatments such as filling, custom-fitted tooth night guards, and more.

  1. Impacted Wisdom Tooth

Most of the people experience a toothache once or more in their lifetime due to the wisdom tooth. If your wisdom tooth does not emerge completely from the gum, this results in irritation of the gum tissue and causes pain as it pushes the wisdom tooth to rest of your teeth. Seeking dental assistance can help you get relief from this pain to a great extent.

  1. Infected Sinuses

If you have sinus or a blocked nose problem, then this could put pressure on your tooth and lead to a toothache. It is because people suffering from sinus are at a higher risk of meeting sinusitis or sinus infection. Hence, it is mandatory to consult a dentist regarding available treatment options.

  1. Injured Jaw

If your toothache has started after trauma or an injury, then it could be because of TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder. This dysfunction needs a proper treatment for which you must seek professional assistance from a reputed dentist.

  1. Infected Gums

Infection in the gums can also cause pain in gums as well as teeth. If the gums are left untreated, then this can lead to loosening of teeth and fall out. The primary stage of gum disease is known as ‘gingivitis’ that can be cured completely be following a healthy oral hygiene routine. But if the problem is not treated, then this would result in a toothache.

Your toothache can be because of any of these causes. If a toothache lasts longer than 24 hours, then it is wise to consult a dentist.

When to See a Dentist?              

In most of the cases, toothache is a common symptom of a bigger problem that can affect not just the oral health, but your overall health. Usually, they don’t go away on their own. The longer you put them on hold, the more severe they could become.

Your dentist would first examine your mouth to determine the root cause of a toothache. Based on the results, he would suggest most appropriate treatment. This can be a root canal treatment or a filling in the tooth decay, treating the gums, and placing a crown over the decayed tooth.

The impacted tooth is removed in order to prevent infections to other tooth and combat alignment and crowding problems. If your teeth are already misaligned, then this can be cured with orthodontic treatment.

How to Prevent a Toothache?

If you have met a toothache once, you would never want to experience it again. The good thing is that there are various preventable measures available for a toothache. As long as you take adequate care of your oral hygiene, keep up with regular dental check-ups, and maintain healthy eating habits, you would be able to avoid a toothache to a great extent.

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