Chances are, you don't think about your teeth much except while practicing your daily oral hygiene routine. And even then, your mind will be busy planning your day or trying to remember last night's dream.
However, a toothache is a painful reminder of the fragility of your teeth, one which can cause disruption in your life. Even fairly mild localised pain can become distracting quickly. More major toothaches change the way you eat, speak and smile almost immediately.
Unfortunately, there're no guaranteed answers to most questions about your toothache. But in this blog, we guide you through common causes, telltale symptoms and sure signs you should see your dentist.
What Causes Toothaches?
Though your teeth have a strong outer layer of enamel, they connect to a network of sensitive oral nerves. These nerves exist inside each tooth as well as in the soft tissues of your mouth. Toothaches indicate irritation of or damage to these nerves.
Common causes of toothaches include the following:
Abscess or other oral infection
Bruxism, also called tooth grinding
Chipping or fracturing of a tooth
Lost or damaged filling, bridge or crown Untreated cavities and tooth decay
You are more likely to experience tooth-related discomfort if you have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), frequent headaches and certain chronic diseases. Always discuss your medical history with your healthcare providers to rule out non-dental causes of tooth discomfort.
How Do Toothaches Manifest?
Toothaches can appear at any time, in patients of any age. Most patients describe a combination of one or more of the following symptoms:
Change in taste -If you have an infected tooth or section of gum tissue, you may notice a foul taste in your mouth that doesn't disappear when you eat or drink. The change usually results from wound discharge.
Headache -Your teeth, jaw and facial bones can easily be affected by each other. You may experience headaches before, during or after a toothache.
Tooth pain -Tooth pain can come in many forms, from sharp to achy and from throbbing to constant. Additionally, your tooth pain may only appear when you eat sugary or acidic foods, put pressure on your teeth or expose your teeth to heat or cold. All these pain types qualify as a toothache.
Because toothaches can result from a number of different causes, their symptoms vary. Some patients experience dull pain that comes and goes, while others report intense, focused pain over extended time periods. Take note of your symptoms before you have your appointment as these effects can help your dentist identify the cause.
When Should You See Your Dentist?
If you have brief, mild discomfort, you may get away without a trip to the dentist. However, most toothaches require professional evaluation and treatment for them to disappear.
You should see your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any of the following:
Difficulty opening your mouth, chewing or speaking
Discomfort lasting for two or more days
Earaches or localised discomfort around the ears
Extreme pain, even if you only feel it intermittently
Inability to properly care for your teeth due to the pain
Visible changes to your teeth, gums or oral tissues
If you develop fever, lightheadedness or other sudden and serious symptoms, seek medical attention from your general practitioner or from an emergency dentist. These symptoms may indicate infection or a different pain source, such as an advanced sinus infection.
If you have a history of tooth sensitivity, decay or aches, bring up your concerns during your next appointment at Dental Smile Clinic. Your dentist can develop a hygiene, appointment and procedure plan based on your specific circumstances. With some simple proactive measures, you should be able to avoid most future toothaches.