Toothaches are often a sign that something is wrong, but not everyone responds quickly and seeks treatment. Reasons for this can vary. Perhaps your schedule is too busy to make time right now, or you fear you will need a lot of expensive dental work. Anxiety may accompany any thought of having to sit in a dentist’s chair, so you delay and hope the pain will go away.
While all of these are understandable, it’s also essential that you take an achy tooth seriously and not ignore it. Even if the ache in your tooth subsides or only comes and goes, it can cause irreparable damage down the line. It can also worsen or reappear in the middle of the night, over a holiday, or while you’re on vacation, constituting a dental emergency.
5 Reasons You Should Treat Your Aching Tooth Instead of Ignoring It
1. New Cavities
Cavities are a common dental issue and can usually be detected during a routine dental cleaning and exam. If not, an ache or pain may be your first indicator that something is wrong in a tooth and a cavity is developing.
A cavity is a hole in the tooth that the body has no way to repair or correct. The cause of the cavity is the gradual wearing away of the outer tooth due to bacteria, which results from acid produced by the foods you consume.
When left untreated, the cavity can progress and reach the nerve of the tooth. In turn, you can experience sudden pain throughout your day and also have it wake you in the middle of the night.
You begin to feel more pain and even sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweets. The pain may be throbbing or localized when you bite down or press on the tooth itself. Dentists refer to this as the initial pain of a cavity.
While that pain does eventually go away, and you may think it was just a passing ache, it will return. This recurring pain is most likely due to infection, often with a dental abscess forming.
2. Dental Abscess (Infection)
A dental abscess is a bump or sac full of bacteria and pus that shows up at the base of your tooth or stays hidden at the root. Aches can radiate out to your gums and even the jaw, and your face may swell.
This condition means you now have a serious infection to deal with and will require either a root canal or tooth extraction. Also, the infection can spread to other parts of your body via the bloodstream, causing complications.
If you begin to feel any of the following symptoms, the infection may already be on its way through your bloodstream and will need additional treatment.
- Vomiting, Diarrhea, or Stomach Pain
3. Loss of Support
The longer a tooth is left to deteriorate from a cavity, infection, or trauma, it loses more and more of its core. As a result, the tooth has less strength to fully support your bite.
An aching tooth can alert you to the cause (cavity or infection) or let you know that a recent traumatic experience damaged the tooth. If dealt with in time, you can save that tooth.
The collapse of the tooth structure may result from an unattended cavity, loss of a large filling, or some traumatic event such as an accident or fall. It can also occur after you chip or break a tooth biting down on nuts, ice, or even jawbreaker candy.
Along with the ache, a slight crack may be noticeable at first, but in many instances, the tooth either splits in half, or a part of it breaks off. The interior of the tooth then becomes exposed. At this point, the tooth is beyond repair, and your dentist will not be able to save it. Extraction will be the next step, with an implant replacement if you choose.
4. Advanced Gum Disease
A less common source of achy teeth is advanced gum disease, called periodontitis.
When a milder form of gum disease, gingivitis, is untreated for an extended time, plaque continues to build up, eventually turning into tartar. This tartar causes bacteria and infection to spread to the structures supporting your teeth. Not only does it affect your gums but also tooth roots and the connective tissue. It can even reach your jawbone.
If you have achy teeth, determine if you have any of the additional symptoms below to suspect advanced gum disease as the culprit.
- Receding gums
- Halitosis (chronic bad breath)
- Loose teeth
- Change in your bite
- Tooth sensitivity
Tooth pain accompanying gum disease is potentially the result of infection in the supporting structures of your teeth or increasing tooth sensitivity.
5. Other Medical Conditions
Toothache pain may also be the result of what is known as “referred pain,” meaning it is caused due to another problem somewhere else in the body.
In other words, your aching tooth may be a sign of another medical condition, including sinus trouble, ear infections, and other more severe conditions such as a heart attack. In these instances, ruling out cavities or other oral health issues is the first step toward finding out the true cause.
Contact Linworth Family Dental in Central Ohio for All Your Dental Needs
If you or anyone in your family are currently experiencing tooth pain, don’t ignore it. Instead, call our office today to schedule an appointment, and we’ll help you find the cause and recommend beneficial treatments if needed. Here at Linworth Family Dental, we provide full-service quality care with compassion, so you never have to go anywhere else. Contact us today to get started.