Is Your Simple Toothache Something More Serious?
Nearly everyone, at least once, is likely to experience the pain, inconvenience and worry of a toothache at some point in their lives. Pain in the mouth is particularly difficult to ignore, especially when it is severe enough to distract you from your daily activities. When it hurts to eat, drink, speak or even breathe, the problem has already been allowed to continue for too long.
Determine the Cause Behind the Pain
While the term “toothache” is used in a general way when referring to pain in or around a tooth, there are actually different types of this common problem. Some of the most common include the following:
- Cracked tooth – If the application of pressure to one or more teeth causes a deep, sharp pain, the tooth may be cracked and irritating the nerves beneath the gums. Depending on the location and severity of the crack, the dentist may opt for a dental filling, a crown or extraction and replacement with an implant. The latter solution is only used in extremely serious cases in which the tooth is so badly cracked that it cannot be saved.
- Exposed nerve – Extreme sensitivity to sweet or sour food, cold or hot beverages, or even air being drawn in when you inhale are all symptoms of a potentially exposed nerve. If an old filling or crown is cracked, fluids, oxygen, food particles and bacteria are given free access to the very sensitive nerve endings inside the tooth. This pain is also associated with advanced cavities. The dentist will seal the hole or crack after ensuring that the nerve itself has not become infected or treating it if it has.
- Abscess – a dentist must address this serious condition and the severe pain for which it is well known as soon as possible. The build-up of pus contained within the root of the tooth must be able to flow out freely in order to relieve pain and prevent further infection.
- Bruxism – Persistent grinding of the teeth, usually at night, can cause pain that radiates through the jaw and into teeth throughout the mouth. The pain is generally more acute in the molars, as this is where the most pressure is applied when the teeth grind together. An oral mouth guard, worn at night, can help stop the involuntary grinding action. Your dentist will determine the most effective method of treatment for your bruxism.
All of these are indicative of a problem and should be evaluated immediately by a licensed dental professional.
Treatment for Toothaches
Many toothache sufferers anticipate even more discomfort and intense anxiety when they visit their dentist. Instead of facing the problem in a timely manner, they wait and avoid thinking about what may happen if they do schedule the appointment. They think that, if they wait it out, the pain will eventually subside on its own.
The fact is, however, that serious complications can arise in cases of a toothache that is ignored for any extended period of time. Consequences of waiting to address certain problems may include more painful, costly treatments or even the necessary extraction of the tooth, depending on how severely it is damaged.
In most cases, extraction is not necessary. The cause of the pain will be determined through the use of a visual exam as well as x-ray imaging. When the dentist diagnoses the problem and develops a treatment plan, it may include the use of fillings, dental appliances, crowns or an improved oral hygiene regimen, depending on the cause of the pain.
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