A toothache is an unfortunate pain that almost everyone will experience at some point in their lives. Even if your oral hygiene is impeccable and you never miss a dentist visit, it will probably happen. While cavities are the usual culprit, there are actually a number of issues that can lead to tooth pain.
Sensitivity is the leading cause of non-cavity-related toothaches, and often, the symptoms can overlap. If you experience discomfort when drinking cold or hot beverages, for instance, that can indicate a cavity, but it can also indicate sensitive teeth. What causes teeth sensitivity? Some people are naturally sensitive or become sensitive as they age, but it can also be caused by receding gums, which may indicate gum disease, and thinning tooth enamel, which is a precursor to tooth decay.
If your sensitivity is relatively minor, switch to a toothbrush with softer bristles and consider a toothpaste with a desensitizing agent. You can then bring it up with your dentist the next time you visit. If you have a toothache or other serious discomfort, however, you should schedule a visit right away.
Everyone has a different pain threshold, but toothaches caused by early cavities are generally not debilitating. If, on the other hand, you experience a stabbing pain when you chew, it can indicate serious decay or a cracked tooth, or similar injury. If the pain is throbbing and persistent, then you likely have an infection and perhaps an abscess and should schedule an emergency visit with your dentist.
Causes Other Than Your Teeth
Although not common, sinus infections can cause pain that resembles a toothache. A telltale sign is that the pain is limited to your upper teeth and both sides of your face. You may also experience nasal congestion as well as tenderness near the sinuses. If you suspect this is the problem, then you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician.
Toothache pain may extend into the jaw, or the discomfort may be exclusive or mostly limited to the jaw. In these cases, the pain may be due to a temporomandibular disorder. TMD can be brought on by trauma or a direct injury. The distress may not necessarily be obvious. Many people get TMD from bruxism but are not aware they grind their teeth until diagnosed. Other potential causes include arthritis, oral cancer, and impacted wisdom teeth.
When in Doubt, See Your Dentist
Toothaches should never be ignored, even when the discomfort is minor. Intermittent pain may be easy to ignore but can be an indicator of serious oral or other health issues. If you are unsure of the cause, then the best course of action is always to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Even if the pain is not tooth-related, your dentist can refer you to the appropriate specialist.
Listen to Your Teeth
If you are experiencing a toothache, your tooth is telling you something. The issue may be minor and go away on its own, but the pain could be a precursor to something much more serious. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, is a leading dentist in Scottsdale and can perform a full diagnostic checkup. Whatever the cause of your pain, Dr. Clark will help you get to the bottom of it and on the road to a pain-free smile. Schedule your appointment at Scottsdale Dental Excellence by calling us at 480 585 1853.