by Dr. Neda Rafati
Why does my tooth hurt?
Do I need to be worried about my toothache?
What happens if I ignored my toothache?
When do I need to see a dentist for my toothache?
Common Causes of Toothache:
Like any other organ in our body, our teeth are innervated with nerve bundles which carry pressure, heat, cold sensations back to the brain. This nerve bundle called the pulp is inside the tooth protected by dentin and enamel. However, if there is any communication from the outside such as cavities (caries) we can start feeling pain due to the irritation of the nerve.
Other causes of tooth ache include recession of the gum, grinding/clenching, cracked teeth, infection, past history of trauma to the area.
How to stop toothache:
There are different ways to go about alleviating dental pain. The first step in identifying the cause of it. The following identifies some of the most common ones:
–Dental caries: yes cavities can cause pain and cold sensitivity. If this sensitivity is short lived, a filling or restoration on the tooth with the cavity can help with the pain.
–Recession: If gum recession is causing the toothache then a regimen of desensitizing tooth pastes and possibly further surgical treatment can remedy the pain. Stay tuned for the next blog post on the Pinhole Surgical Technique offered at Canyon Dental Centre by Dr. Glenn van As and Dr. Dean Choi.
–Grinding/Clenching: Many people complain of jaw pain and facial muscle pain which stems from grinding/clenching at nights or during the day. Night guards (an appliance worn at night to protect the teeth) can significantly reduce the discomfort.
–Cracked teeth: Weaker teeth such as molars with large restorations and root canal treated teeth are more prone to breaking. However, even a fine crack on the root surface can cause pain on chewing. At Canyon Dental Centre we are equipped with state of the art technology using microscopes and are able to visually detect even fine cracks on the teeth using high magnification and ample light.
– Infection: commonly known as an abscessed or a “hot tooth”, infections are one the most well-known causes of toothache. Mostly identified with a swelling and severe pain, infections are not always obviously detected till a radiograph is obtained. At Canyon Dental Centre we use a unique 3D imaging technique (Cone Beam CT) which helps diagnosing the source of infection so we can treat the site accordingly.
-Trauma: Injuries or trauma to the teeth can further damage the nerve and cause tooth ache. This insult to the nerve can manifest many years after the initial injury to the area. Discoloration is a common side affect of a dying nerve (necrotic pulp) which can be caused after trauma to the teeth. A root canal is advised to treat this issue.
When to Intervene:
I always advise patients to pay close attention to their symptoms. The onset of sensitivity is usually sporadic and non specific making it difficult to make a definitive diagnosis. However if you make a note of duration of sensitivity and what triggers your pain, it will help your clinician to specify the source of your toothache.
At Canyon Dental Centre we emphasize the importance of preventative care as it is much easier and less costly to our patients. In addition to less cost, we can maintain more tooth structure when we avoid more invasive treatments such as root canal therapy.
What Happens If I Ignored My Toothache:
If the toothache is not addressed early and is left for a long time, it can lead to infection, tooth breakage, and eventually tooth loss. At Canyon Dental Centre we offer all our patients a regular recall program were they are seen by the dentists twice a year during their dental hygiene appointments. We keep our records up to date and do a comprehensive exam to identify the source of tooth ache. We listen to our patient’s symptoms and document everything to follow up in the future if need be. This will help in identifying and treating the toothache to the best of our ability.