A toothache is the most common reason for oral pain. It is an uncomfortable, distressing and debilitating situation that if left untreated can result in serious consequences to an individual’s oral health as well as overall well-being. Depending upon the underlying cause of a toothache and the degree of damage to the tooth and involvement of the surrounding tissues, the type and severity of symptoms can vary. While mild symptoms of discomfort are easy to dismiss and ignore, waiting until toothache pain is more consistent or severe is not advised. The best option is to make a timely appointment with the dentist for a professional assessment and care.
Although the reason for most toothaches is cavities (tooth decay/dental caries), a toothache or what may feel like pain related to the teeth can be due to any number of underlying conditions including:
- A Cavity
- Dentin Hypersensitivity (Sensitive teeth)
- Dental Trauma resulting in chips, fractures, cracks or nerve damage to the tooth
- Infection or Abscess
- Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
- Erupting or Impacted Teeth (wisdom teeth are often problematic)
- Sinus or Ear Infections
- Other medical conditions with referred pain to the jaw
Different types and degrees of toothache pain can point to different underlying causes and help in the diagnosis of the problem. Sharp and stabbing pain when eating or drinking hot and cold foods may be due to the presence of a cavity or exposed dentin and sensitive teeth. Pain with pressure or biting down may indicate a cavity or even a broken filling, a cracked tooth or periodontal problem. If the pain is continuous or throbbing, it is a sign that tooth decay or trauma has affected the nerve of a tooth or that an infection requiring prompt care is present. Localized swelling around the tooth or more generalized tissue and facial swelling and fever must be taken care of as quickly as possible.
Treatment of a toothache depends upon the diagnosis of the underlying problem, the degree of damage to the involved tooth or surrounding tissues and if any infection is present. Once the dentist has performed a comprehensive evaluation of the case, the appropriate recommendations and care to alleviate the symptoms and restore oral health will be provided.
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Stanley Dintcho, DDS
Eric Shapira, DDS, MA, MHA
Desmond Brian NG, DDS
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