What’s Your Toothache Telling You?
Have you ever had a toothache before? In many cases, a toothache is a sign of tooth decay that is hidden under the surface of your tooth. However, a cavity isn’t the only reason you might have a toothache. You could have a piece of food stuck in your gums or you could have receding gums that are sensitive. Even problems such as the temperature outside or a sinus infection could be causing your tooth pain. Find out why a toothache happens and how you can remedy it!
Tooth Decay Is a Major Culprit
Tooth decay is one of the reasons you might have a toothache. When you eat, sugars in foods and drink mix with bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. This sticky, acidic substance coats your teeth and erodes your tooth enamel. It does this by weakening your hard enamel, creating small cracks and fissures that you can’t see. If that plaque gets inside your tooth it spreads decay like wildfire, which will give you a severe cavity and/or infection. You avoid tooth decay by brushing and flossing your teeth several times a day so that plaque never gets the chance to destroy your teeth.
Have You Damaged a Tooth?
There are many other reasons you might have a toothache. A toothache is a sign of damage or sensitivity if it’s not caused by tooth decay. Anything hurting in your mouth is a sign that something is not right and needs to be evaluated. Our patients get toothaches for reasons such as:
Tooth decay. If the decay has reached the pulp of your tooth, you probably have severe damage that is causing you pain. For severe decay, we sometimes have to perform a root canal or a dental extraction.
Injured tooth. If the problem isn’t tooth decay, then we look at the structure of your tooth. If you chew on ice or other hard foods, it’s easy to chip, crack or break a tooth. You can chip some of your tooth right off the top or even break a filling that is already present. Sometimes our patients realize that they have done this as soon as it happens. If you chip a tooth, you will have a slight ache. If you’ve broken or cracked a tooth, that toothache will be more severe. Never wait to get dental help, as infection sets in quickly with broken or cracked teeth.
Winter cold. With changing seasons, we have patients that get a toothache here and there. Cold air hitting the teeth will cause sensitivity in many patients. Running heat directly in your face in a car or other small space can also irritate your teeth. Patients tend to drink more hot beverages in the winter, which can cause tooth sensitivity. Limit these habits or try venting the heat more, as well as drinking warm beverages instead of hot ones.
Gum recession. Plaque and tartar buildup will damage your teeth and irritate your gums. That irritation causes gum recession, which exposes part of your tooth root. This root will be sensitive to hot or cold foods and beverages, which can cause you sharp, sudden pains.
Bruxism and TMJ. If you clench or grind your teeth at night, you may wake up with headaches and a toothache in one or more places. We will look to see if you are clenching or grinding or if you need treatment for dysfunction of your temporomandibular joint.
Reduce Your Toothache Risk
We mentioned that tooth decay is one of the reasons you might have a toothache. When you eat, sugars in foods and drink mix with bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. This sticky, acidic substance coats your teeth and erodes your tooth enamel. It does this by weakening your hard enamel, creating small cracks and fissures that you can’t see. If that plaque gets inside your tooth it spreads tooth decay like wildfire, which will give you severe tooth decay and/or infection.
You avoid tooth decay by brushing and flossing your teeth several times a day so that plaque never gets the chance to destroy your teeth. Keeping your teeth clean will reduce your risk for decay and infection and will remove food that is stuck in your teeth and gums. The cleaner you keep your mouth, the fewer problems you will have, as tooth decay is one of the most common causes of toothaches.
Remedy a Toothache
A toothache should never be something you commonly get. A healthy mouth is one that is pain-free and clean. When you start to get an ache in one of your teeth, monitor it throughout the day. If it doesn’t go away or gets worse, call our office right away, especially if it’s getting close to a weekend. If your toothache is caused by tooth decay, we want to remove that decay as soon as possible or your aches and pains will get worse.
Until you can see us, use a cold compress on your face by applying it to your cheek 15-20 minutes on and 15-20 minutes off. You can also take an over-the-counter painkiller such as Tylenol to help with the pain. However, never touch aspirin or other painkillers straight to your gums or the area that hurts or you could end up with burns or other oral health problems. For help with your toothache or other oral health problem, call Dr. Ania’s office today at (303) 872-9940