What Are Toothaches and How We Can Help

man holding his cheek with hand suffering from bad toothache

Toothaches are most often caused when the nerve inside the tooth is irritated. It can leave you up at night, cause difficulties with eating certain foods, and can be a daily struggle until it’s treated. The reality of toothaches is that their causes can’t be identified until diagnosed by a dentist. To best understand how your toothaches can be treated, it’s essential to understand what can cause the pain and the risk factors for leaving it untreated.

What Causes Toothaches?

Toothaches refer to any kind of pain near a person’s teeth, jaw, and gums. These painful irritations can occur for any particular reason, but most of the time, cavities are the main culprit of these issues.

Cavities are decayed sections of your teeth that develop tiny openings along the side or inside the tooth’s root. These cavities are caused by overtime by the layering of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film substance caused by the combination of foods, fluids, and saliva, which contains bacteria. This bacteria is like an oral ecosystem, with most bacteria helping digest and break down foods. However, when you eat carbs, sugary foods, and drinks, those bacteria feed on those sugars and produce acids. When those acids stay inside the mouth for long periods, plaque forms, and the overabundance of plaque can result in cavities.

However, an important note to take in is that cavities cause not all toothaches. Some other causes of toothaches include:

  • Cracked teeth
  • Exposed roots
  • Inflamed nerves
  • Infections from the ears and sinuses
  • Heart diseases
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Impacted wisdom teeth
  • Canker sores
  • Gum recession

When Should Someone Seek Dental Care for A Toothache? 

When faced with toothaches, it’s essential to understand your symptoms’ severity and look for sure signs that your toothache cannot be treated with over-the-counter medication. When approaching your symptoms, you should pay attention to these critical concerns:

  • Consistent Pain: When the pain cannot be relieved by over-the-counter medications and has lasted longer than two days, you must see a dentist evaluate your problem and determine its causes.
  • Bleeding, Swelling Gums: Gums that bleed around the tooth can also indicate early signs of gingivitis. Gingivitis is a first form of periodontal disease, where infectious bacteria breaks down soft tissues, causing the tooth’s root to become exposed.
  • Risk of Infection: If severe pain lasts longer than two days without relief, combined with other symptoms include fevers, discharge around the tooth, and swelling around the gums and face, then it could indicate the signs of dental disease. Other instances, such as sinusitis and throat pain, can also cause toothaches, as the pain that radiates throughout the neck can trigger nerves in the teeth.
  • Broken Teeth: Knocked-out, broken teeth need immediate treatment, as the risk of infection increases significantly. If the tooth can be saved, then your dentists can determine the best course of treatment.
  • TMJ Disorder: Pain that spreads down into the jaw and neck can indicate signs of TMJ disorder, or temporomandibular disorder, which can be caused by a direct traumatic injury to the jaw, by tooth grinding, or by arthritis affecting the jaw joint.

When visiting your dentist, medical history and physical exam will indicate an appropriate diagnosis and find multiple factors contributing to your tooth pain. To find out what dental procedures you would need to stop your toothache, contact your primary dentists today for an appointment.