A toothache can be described as a sharp, throbbing, or constant pain, especially when pressure is applied to the tooth. In some cases, the pain may be accompanied by swelling around the tooth, headache, fever, and foul-looking or -smelling drainage from the tooth if infected.
Whatever the source and severity of the pain, Grand View Family and Cosmetic Dentistry highly recommends that you schedule an appointment immediately to determine the cause and initiate the appropriate treatment.
Causes of Toothache
The pain in or around your tooth may be caused by one of the following issues.
- Tooth decay – Tooth decay can damage both the outer coating of a tooth (the enamel) as well as the inner layer (dentin). This issue is caused by foods with carbohydrates such as bread, soda, and sweets staying on your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth transforms food particles into acids, which then combine with the bacteria, food debris, and saliva to form plaque. The acids in the plaque then attack your teeth, which can make them sensitive to sweet, hot, or cold food and beverages.
- Abscess – An abscess is caused by infection of the root of the tooth or between the tooth and the gum. Though it is mainly the result of severe tooth decay, it can be caused by trauma to the tooth as well as gum disease. The tooth enamel can grow weak and crack, allowing bacteria to infect the center (pulp) of the tooth. If the infection spreads, it can reach the bones supporting the tooth.
- Broken, fractured or displaced tooth – A tooth that has been broken, fractured or knocked out due to an injury to the jaw will cause pain. This is especially true if the damage exposes the soft center of your tooth which is normally protected from the mouth environment.
- Damaged filling – If a filling breaks off or falls out completely, food particles can accumulate in the space and lead to cavities or infection.
- Infected gums – Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, is caused by plaque buildup. If left untreated, it can lead to periodontitis, or severe gum disease. The latter causes the inner layer of gum and bone to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets in which food debris collects which can develop into plaque. In addition to causing toothaches, this infection can weaken your body’s immune system as it will be busy fighting the spread of plaque and bacteria.
- Teeth grinding – Also known as bruxism, regular teeth grinding due to stress, anxiety or an abnormal bite can fracture, loosen or completely damage your teeth. As a result, you may experience a toothache as well as pain in your jaw.
Treating a Toothache
Seeing a qualified dentist like Dr. Stephen Moore, DDS, can help relieve the symptoms of your toothache and resolve the underlying cause.
There are a few things you can do while you’re waiting for your appointment.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water and remove food particles by gently flossing your teeth.
- Control the swelling and pain by placing a cool compress on your cheek.
- Use acetaminophen or ibuprofen if the pain is severe. However, do not use aspirin.
Once you reach our office, your dentist will likely recommend taking an X-ray to diagnose the origin of the pain and extent of the problem, and recommend the best treatment. You may need an antibiotic if there is an active infection or to prevent infection from developing. In addition, dental devices such as mouth guards may be prescribed to prevent damage caused to the teeth and jaw joint by tooth grinding.
If you are suffering from a toothache, schedule an examination with the best dentists in Appleton at Grand View Family and Cosmetic Dentistry by calling at 920-996-0123. You can also drop by at 381 South Kools Street, Appleton, WI 54914, during office hours for emergency dental care.