Why do I have a toothache?

I have a toothache. What’s the cause and should I go to the dentist?

A nagging toothache is NO fun!  Just ask any of Dr. E’s patients who come in seeking relief for severe tooth pain. While she and her team are always ready to help, Dr. E wants patients to avoid getting toothaches in the first place. Here is some helpful and preventative information about what causes toothaches, when you should see your dentist for tooth pain, and what you can do to prevent toothaches before they become an even bigger pain!

What Causes Toothaches?

A lack of proper oral hygiene is a seemingly obvious yet major cause of toothaches. Neglecting to brush and floss properly can lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay, gum disease and dreaded cavities. If not treated properly, these issues can cause your teeth to develop infection and/or become overly sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, resulting in tooth discomfort and pain. Habitual grinding of teeth, otherwise known as bruxism, may also cause severe tooth and jaw pain over time. Cracking a tooth is another leading cause of toothaches, resulting in sharp pain as well as sensitivity to hot or cold food and liquids. Finally, impacted teeth can be a BIG pain… especially when wisdom teeth get “stuck” under the gums, creating pressure and pain until they are removed by an oral surgeon.

When Should I See a Dentist for my Tooth Pain?

Sometimes it’s obvious when we should see a dentist. For example, a tooth trauma or injury causing a cracked or knocked-out tooth means you should see a dentist (or go to the ER) immediately.  But other times we’re unsure whether or not our tooth pain warrants a visit to the dentist. Follow these signs to know when it’s time to see a dentist for your toothache:

  • Pain persists even if over-the-counter pain medication is taken
  • Pain is accompanied by high fever (a sign of infection)
  • You have pain along with swelling of the face and/or gums (a sign of an abscess)
  • Pain extends into the jaw
  • Pain is severe after a tooth has been extracted (a sign of dry sockets)

Tips to Prevent Toothaches

Proactive prevention is the most effective way to ward off toothaches. For example, wearing a mouth guard during contact sports is a simple but effective way to help stop tooth trauma from occurring. Proper brushing and flossing will help prevent the formation of cavities and tooth decay, which contributes to toothaches. And, of course, seeing your dentist regular for cleanings will help preserve your smile and oral health. Here are a few more suggested tips to help prevent toothaches from occurring:

  • Drink fluorinated water
  • Replace your toothbrush regularly (approximately every 3 months)
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks
  • Refrain from smoking – for your oral health and overall good health!

For most patients, practicing good oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly will help prevent toothaches from happening. However, if tooth pain persists or if you experience one or more of the above symptoms, be sure to contact Dr. E Cosmetic & Family Dentistry for relief and treatment!

Don’t let toothaches become a big pain! Contact Dr. E Cosmetic & Family Dentistry for a cleaning or check up! 480.494.2435

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