A toothache is any pain in or around a tooth. There are many causes for toothaches, which can be a sign of a variety of complications and ailments. From tooth grinding to infection, it’s important to visit a dentist near you when you have a toothache. You always want to find out the real reason for the tooth pain right away.
Common Causes of Toothaches
Below are some of the most common causes of toothaches.
This can be an infection around the tooth, say in the gums, or within the tooth itself.
Tooth decay is the leading cause of toothaches, and results in dental cavities. These can be treated with fillings to alleviate the problem.
Gingivitis, or gum disease, can cause swelling and abscesses around the base of the tooth that cause pain when biting and chewing. Left untreated, this can develop into periodontitis, where bacteria starts to eat away at the bone around a tooth. It’s also possible that the infection can get into the soft pulp of the inner tooth, which may require a root canal.
Clenching and grinding teeth can result in toothache, as the teeth are placed under constant stress. People who wake up with toothaches may find that they’re grinding their teeth at night when they sleep. Some people also clench and grind their jaws during the day without even realising it, as it becomes a subconscious, anxious behavior.
Damage to the Tooth
Chips, cracks, and breaks in the teeth will often result in toothache. Some cracks can be very fine, and difficult to spot with the naked eye. A trip to the dentist will help to identify any damage to the tooth, and begin a treatment plan to repair it.
Tooth fillings, veneers, crowns, inlays and onlays that have been used to restore a tooth can, ironically, end up hurting the tooth. This can be the case if the restoration has become loose or damaged.
It’s not uncommon for tooth fillings to become loose after many years. When this occurs, every time you bite or chew using the filled tooth, the filling drives down into the enamel. In these cases it’s important to have the filling replaced. Older metal amalgam fillings can even cause the tooth to crack if they’re loose.
Sometimes a pain in your tooth doesn’t actually have anything to do with your teeth — or even your mouth. Sinus infections and congestion can put pressure on nerves that feels a lot like toothache.
When Should You See a Dentist For Toothache?
Almost any time you have a pain in your tooth, it’s best to visit a dentist to get examined and find out the root cause. A good rule of thumb is that you should seek a dentist immediately for toothache that:
- Has lasted more than 1-2 days
- Is severe
- Is accompanied by fever, earache, or pain when opening your mouth
These can all classify as dental emergencies. If your dentist offers emergency dental services, you’ll be able to book an appointment ASAP to get examined and treated.
Potential Treatments for Toothache
How a toothache is treated depends on the underlying cause.
- Infections: Fillings for tooth decay, proper oral hygiene for gingivitis, deep cleans for periodontitis, and root canals for inner-tooth infections.
- Grinding: A variety of treatment methods, from behavioural therapy through to specially made splints to prevent your teeth touching while you sleep.
- Damage to the tooth: Veneers, crowns, inlays and onlays.
- Problems with restorations: Revise and fix the restoration.
How to Prevent Toothache
The leading cause of toothache is tooth decay and infections. The easiest way to prevent these is through proper oral hygiene — brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Adhering to recommended oral hygiene practices can actually help to prevent many, if not most, common oral concerns. If you are due for your periodic dental appointment, book it now.