When one of your teeth aches, do you immediately assume that a cavity is to blame? While a cavity certainly could be the culprit, there are actually several potential causes of toothaches. That’s why it’s vital that anyone with a toothache make an appointment to see their dentist as soon as possible. Prompt care can put an end to the pain and prevent future damage.
Causes of Toothaches
Toothaches come in many forms. A toothache can be a dull, throbbing discomfort that consistently makes you miserable. It can be a sharp, piercing pain that shoots through your jaw when you bite down. It can even be an unpleasant tingle that makes you wince when you eat or drink something that’s hot or cold. It doesn’t matter how it hurts. If you or someone you love has a toothache, it’s time to visit a dentist to pinpoint the cause. What are some common causes of toothaches?
Tooth decay is a common and potentially painful problem. When bacteria in your mouth feed on sugars, they produce acid that damages the surface of your teeth, resulting in tooth decay. While good dental hygiene can help head off problems, if this decay goes unchecked, it can cause a cavity and eventually reach the dentin, the inner layer of the tooth. This causes pain and sensitivity. A quick response can stop the cavity from progressing, but if the situation isn’t attended to, the cavity can extend deeper into the tooth and cause bigger problems, including tooth loss.
An abscess is actually your body’s attempt to defend itself from infection caused by bacteria by creating barriers to prevent its spread. Unfortunately, these barriers cause pain and swelling. A gum abscess is often triggered by food that becomes trapped between the tooth and gum. With a tooth abscess, the nerve inside a tooth is dead or dying, and infection has set in. Abscesses can happen quickly, and they are often extremely painful.
Teeth are tough, but they certainly aren’t indestructible. A collision on the sports field, a blow to the face, an awkward tumble, or simply biting down on something hard can cause a tooth to fracture. Sometimes a tooth fracture doesn’t hurt. If it does hurt, it’s an indication that the fracture likely reaches into the middle of the tooth, where nerves are found. Whether you’re experiencing pain or not, you should schedule a visit to your dentist as soon as possible if you suspect that you have a fractured tooth. Damage can worsen with time, so it’s important to seek professional help without delay.
It’s natural to assume that a toothache is caused by a problem with the tooth, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, it’s an issue with the gums that surround the teeth. When plaque forms on teeth and irritates the gums, it can cause gum disease. The gums become red, inflamed, and prone to bleeding. Regular dental cleanings and proper dental hygiene can often reverse the issue and prevent it from recurring. However, if gum disease is allowed to progress, the gums, teeth, and bone can be damaged, and tooth loss can occur.
Bruxism, which is also called teeth grinding, involves clenching the jaw and grating the top and bottom teeth back and forth against each other. Often done when under stress or sleeping, teeth grinding can be violent enough to crack or chip teeth. It can also lead to headaches, sore jaws, and neck pain. Fortunately, teeth grinding can be effectively treated with a custom mouth guard that is worn at night.
Misaligned teeth can put stress on the jaw and push other teeth out of place, causing pain. They can also make it difficult to clean certain areas, setting the stage for tooth decay and cavities. In most cases, an orthodontic solution can correct alignment issues.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
When wisdom teeth are trapped beneath the gum line and fail to emerge, they are considered impacted. While they may be hidden from sight, their presence can be felt if they press on other teeth, causing discomfort. Surgery is often necessary to remove impacted wisdom teeth.
Improper Brushing or Flossing
If you aren’t brushing thoroughly enough, plaque can build up on the teeth, leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease. However, you can also have too much of a good thing. Brushing or flossing with too much pressure can irritate and damage gum tissue, causing the gums to recede and leaving teeth unstable. Your dentist and hygienist can review brushing and flossing techniques with you to help ensure that you are caring for your teeth correctly.
Are you experiencing a toothache? Don’t wait. There are many causes of toothaches, and visiting your dentist quickly can ensure that the problem is properly identified and treated. If you live in the Springfield, Missouri, area and you’re looking for a new dentist, contact Duff Family Dental today. We offer a full line of general, cosmetic, pediatric, and restorative dentistry services. Call us at 417-501-8601 or schedule an appointment today!