It’s a very common question with several different answers - why does my tooth ache? We’ll be honest up front. Unless you visit the dentist to diagnose the toothache, you probably won’t know for sure. That’s right, if you search around for worst case scenarios on the web, it’ll probably just make the toothache hurt more. We’re written this article for one purpose, which is “while you wait to see the dentist, here is what may be causing your toothache.” So let’s look into some reasons why you have that painful toothache.
Yes, most likely the reason your tooth is aching is because you have a cavity. A cavity is essentially a hole in the enamel of your tooth caused by a build up of bacteria. If the bacteria stays on your tooth too long, it can erode the enamel, creating a depression. Should the cavity stretch deep enough into the tooth, it will reach the middle of the tooth where the pulp and root resides. A cavity this deep can cause irritation in the pulp area of the tooth, which results in that toothache feeling. Left untreated long enough, the cavity can develop into an abscess that can cause extreme toothache symptoms including throbbing and intense aching. If you think you have a toothache from a cavity, it is best to get it treated right now before it gets worse. Dentists use fillings to treat minor to moderate cavities, but if you have an abscess your dentist may have to result to more intensive treatments like a root canal.
Yes there are times where you’ll experience a toothache and nothing is technically wrong with your teeth. If you’re sick or experience seasonal allergies, the build up of pressure in your sinus cavities can press down on the roots of your teeth, creating a toothache. Other times pain can be transferred to your teeth in instances where you have a headache or migraine. The key here is the duration. If the pain doesn’t ease or go away after a couple days, it may be time to call your dentist.
A cavity isn’t the only way the inside pulpy area of your tooth can become irritated. Damage to the tooth like a crack or chip can create a toothache as well. Remember this won’t go away or heal, you need to see your dentist to repair it. The best way to protect against this injury is to wear a mouthguard when active, especially if you play contact sports.
The symptoms of gingivitis can lead to a more severe condition known as gum disease, and they are well worth paying attention to if you experience them. These symptoms include swollen, red, and irritated gums, as well as increased sensitivity and even the recession of some gums from the tooth. This increase in sensitivity can also lead to symptoms like a toothache. Left untreated this condition could cause you to lose your teeth. The best way to combat it is to brush and floss every day as well as visit your dentist for regular checkups. Believe it or not, there are areas in your mouth that are hard to properly clean with just brushing and flossing. This is why visiting your dentist and dental hygienist regularly is so important.
Many patients have a bad habit they may not even realize is a problem - grinding their teeth. This is because they may do it in their sleep and not even realize how bad it has become. Grinding your teeth can wear down the enamel, which just like a cavity can cause irritation and toothaches. To treat this, your dentist will need to repair the damage with fillings and then make you a bite guard to sleep in every night. (Also note other bad habits like chewing ice regularly can create similar damage).
One final reason your teeth ache has to do with the emergence of wisdom teeth. These teeth are located in the back of your mouth where the last molars end, and they can cause aches both when they are growing in and if they place added pressure on nearby teeth. Your dentist is the best person to diagnose issues caused by wisdom teeth, and in many cases they will need to be removed with a simple dental surgery procedure.
The worse thing a patient can do is ignore the feeling of a toothache for too long. Of course as we outlined above sometimes a toothache is no big deal. After all, every patient is bound to experience some sensitivity in their teeth that feels like a toothache. However if the symptoms persist and especially if they get worse, it is time to schedule a checkup with a quality dentist like Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry. Don’t ignore the pain of that pesky toothache!