Each of us, from time to time, can experience the discomfort and pain of a toothache. In fact, toothaches are just a fact of life. Some of these aches and pains come and go on their own, while others will need the attention of your dentist.
A Toothache Caused by Tooth Decay
One of the most common reasons for a toothache is tooth decay. It all begins when built up plaque on a tooth begins to feed on leftover food particles in your mouth (particularly starches and sugars). This creates acid, and that acid erodes the enamel of your tooth. This can cause pain and/or sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. Although pain from tooth decay may come and go for a certain period of time, ultimately pain from a toothache won’t go away on its own. You’ll need your dentist to treat the cavity before you find relief.
A Toothache Caused by a Cracked Tooth
If you feel a toothache when you bite down or chew food, or if you develop a sensitivity to hot and cold food and drink or to sweet foods, you may have a cracked tooth. You might be able to live with a tiny crack for a certain period of time, but eventually your dentist will need to resolve the problem. As is always the case with dental issues, the sooner the problem is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.
A Toothache Caused by Receding Gums
If you notice sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages, whether it’s in one certain area of your mouth or just in general, it could be the result of receding gums. Your gums can start to recede if you have gum disease, but it could also be the result of aging. As we get older, our gums naturally begin to recede, and that can cause sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. Your dentist is the only one who can tell you for sure whether your receding gums are due to gum disease or simply aging. If it’s because of aging, the resolution can be as simple as using a toothpaste intended for sensitive teeth.
A Toothache Caused by Tooth Pulp Inflammation
The pulp of a tooth is located in the center of the tooth and is comprised of both pulp and nerve tissue. When the pulp becomes inflamed – a condition called “pulpitis” – it creates pressure inside your tooth and on the tissue surrounding your tooth as well. This can cause an extremely painful toothache that is often worse when pressure is applied. Pulpitis needs to be treated by your dentist. The pain won’t go away on its own, and will in fact become much worse if it’s not treated promptly.
A Toothache Caused by an Abscess
Not surprisingly, the most severe type of toothache is the one caused by the most serious problem – an infection in the pulp of the tooth. Any infection that is left untreated can be dangerous, so if you have a severe toothache – particularly if it’s accompanied by swelling – contact your dentist right away.
It’s important to note that what feels like a toothache may not be related to dental issues at all since congestion and/or a sinus infection can also make your teeth ache. The only way to know for certain what is causing pain or discomfort in your teeth is to see your dentist.