Causes, Prevention and Treatment of Dental Pain
This article discusses all aspects of dental pain, including causes, treatment, and more. If you are experiencing tooth pain in Kingston Ontario regarding your tooth pain, contact McCabe Family Dentistry for a free consultation.
What are the main causes of dental pain?
There are several reasons why you may be experiencing tooth pain. The most common reason as you may have guessed is decay (also known as dental caries). The problem with caries is that it sometimes is undetectable. It can be between the teeth or in the part covered by the gums, so as it appears to you, your tooth is very sound, while the decay is actually spreading. Also, unlike what most people believe, decay can also occur around and old dental filling, especially if this filling is deep enough or poorly done.
The second most common cause is periodontal disease, which means a problem with the tissues surrounding the tooth (The gums and bone). This can be detected if you have pain on biting, or if your tooth is loose.
Another important cause of tooth pain is when your tooth breaks or fractures. Fractures can range from a small undetectable crack, which can drive you crazy specially because you can’t see it, to a part of the tooth that is broken off. It results from biting down on hard objects, or if you have a habit of tapping and grinding your teeth together.
Why does my tooth hurt so much?
The way that the tooth feels pain is fascinating. The nerve of the tooth (called the pulp) is a complex array full of blood vessels and tiny nerve endings, and surrounded from all directions with the very hard tooth material called the dentine, which has no flexibility and zero malleability. When tiny bacteria reach the pulp, it becomes inflamed, and as a result begins to swell. When the pulp swells, there is no way for it to go, and you get the feeling that your tooth is going to burst.
Another problem is that multiple teeth are supplied by the same nerve , in fact the entirety of the lower jaw, teeth, bone and gums is supplied by only two nerves, one on each side. That is why when you have a toothache, it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the pain. Studies have shown that the pain of pulpitis (or inflamed pulp) is actually the second most severe pain that a human can feel from disease, second only to renal colic.
Pain from a periodontal origin (around the tooth) is different. It doesn’t hurt as much as an inflamed pulp, and is usually very well localized and its location can be detected with accuracy by the patient. Also, the character of pain is different, where pulp pain is very sharp, severe and similar to a stabbing (known as lancinating pain), whereas periodontal pain is dull, less severe and similar to having an itch. This is because periodontal pain is caused by other forms of bacteria compared to pulp pain, and also it is kind of an open system so the inflamed tissues has a way to relieve itself.
What can I do to prevent the occurrence of pain?
First and foremost, take care of your dental and oral health. The most recent guidelines recommend brushing your teeth twice daily with a Fluoride containing tooth paste that your dentist will prescribe, in addition to flossing at least 3 times a week. The use of Fluoridated mouth wash is also recommended, and can lower the sensitivity of your teeth and give you a refreshing sensation and help take care of bad breath.
Also, the importance of regular dental check-ups cannot be overstated. Your dentist will recommend a regular check-up appointment every 6 to 12 months, and sometimes even less if your oral hygiene needs improvement. Most of the time during these check-ups, your dentist will only do a regular cleaning of the plaque and tartar, and if he finds a small decay he will remove it with minimal pain, but if you wait and miss these appointments, the decay could become significantly larger and the treatment will be even more difficult.
Finally, you need to stop any habit that can cause harm to your teeth, most importantly smoking which has a detrimental effect on your gums and bone, and it also makes your mouth dry so the decay spread faster, and uncontrolled drinking which creates an acidic environment where the bacteria can flourish. Other habits are usually related to children, such as sleeping with their bottle and use of sugary medications, which can cause severe decay of their baby teeth. Grinding and tapping your teeth is also a very unhealthy habit, which can cause cracks and fractures that are very painful, and these can be stopped with the help of your dentist.
What should I do when I feel a toothache?
When you experience dental pain, it is recommended that you seek the consultation of your dentist. Perhaps the most important aspect of treating a toothache is rapid diagnosis, and identifying the actual cause of the pain. Your dentist has the tools and knowledge to see what you can’t see, and locate the source of the problem and begin working on the treatment. Visible lesions are easily detected by sight, while hidden problems can be detected with modalities such as X-rays and trans-illumination.
After diagnosis, your dentist can begin to treat the problem. Decayed teeth will require removal of such decay and placement of a filling material, and if the pulp is inflamed it will require cleaning and filling. Gum problems are usually treated by cleaning the teeth of the plaque and tartar, and prescribing fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash. Cracks can be a little more challenging, and may require the tooth to be removed or covered by a dental crown or cap.
Can I wait for dental pain to go away?
Waiting for your toothache to go away by itself, is the same as waiting for that funny car sound to go away on its own. The symptom has a chance of going away, but the root cause has likely gotten worse, and the damage and cost of repair will only increase in severity. Many people fear going to the dentist based on the fear of the pain or cost. In most cases seeing the dentist early will likely be a much less painful experience to you and your wallet relative to waiting and allowing the problem to get worse.
Ensuring you seek out professional advice for your tooth pain will allow for the highest likelihood of fast treatment and the least invasive procedure to your mouth and your bank account.