We all experience aches and pains from time to time. It’s important to know when a medical professional should evaluate your pain. For example, if you develop a toothache, it could mean that that tooth is in jeopardy—or that your overall dental wellness may be compromised. Your Albertville dentists at Wall Street Dentistry want you to know more about what happens when you have a toothache, as well as when a toothache could be a sign of a bigger problem.
What causes a toothache?
Bacteria are one of the most common causes of toothaches. These bacteria can form into sticky plaque on or between your teeth, leading to the development of cavities. Bacteria also can accumulate on your gums, leading to gum disease. These bacteria consume food particles that accumulate in your mouth, converting them into sugars, which then are excreted as an acid that eats away at your tooth enamel. When you consume sugary foods and drinks, the process is accelerated because the sugars are converted directly into acids, deteriorating your tooth enamel—the protective outer layer of tooth structure that serves as a barrier against decay.
Decay isn’t the only reason for a toothache. These aches and pains also may manifest as a symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder, or if you are grinding and clenching your teeth (a habit known clinically as bruxism). Toothaches also can develop as a symptom of sinus illness, ear problems, or even circulatory issues. Also, some toothaches could mean that you have a cracked tooth. While you may not visually see the crack, you may experience a zing of pain every so often, especially when chewing or biting down.
What should you do if you get a toothache?
If you develop a nagging toothache that just won’t seem to go away, your first step is to contact your Albertville dentist. Our office staff will ask specific questions about your symptoms and any other circumstances that might be contributing to your current condition. From there, we can schedule an appointment where Dr. Jonathan Renfroe or Dr. Josh Conley can perform an examination to evaluate your tooth, identify the source of the pain, and how your treatment should proceed.
Dental pain doesn’t always occur during normal office hours. If you have a toothache that starts bothering you at night or on the weekend, there are some things you can do to manage the pain until you have an opportunity to make it to the dentist. Rinsing with warm water can help to dislodge any food particles that may have gotten stuck in your mouth. These food particles may be irritating the gum tissue supporting your teeth. Gentle flossing also can help dislodge any impacted bits of food. If you’re still hurting, an over-the-counter pain reliever can help you manage the discomfort until your appointment. Apply ice packs for 20 minutes at a time may also help curb any discomfort. However, the best course of action is to get in to see us right away to have your tooth evaluated. It could be infected, which is not something you want to leave untreated.
Know when a toothache can be a sign of something more serious
If your toothache is causing you severe pain, such as a sharp, consistent throbbing, then you should see your dentist as soon as possible. Other potential warning signs include swelling, a headache, an earache, or running a fever in combination with the toothache. These all can be signs of an infection.
Your best defense against toothaches and dental problems is to remain diligent about your oral hygiene. Keep brushing your teeth twice per day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist every six months for a check-up that should include a cleaning and examination. Make your appointment today at Wall Street Dentistry by calling (256) 878-0525 if you live in the areas of Albertville, Boaz, and Guntersville in Alabama.