When you get a toothache, it can be more than just a matter of pain and annoyance. It can be a sign of a more serious problem that not only affects your oral health, but your overall health as well.
In many instances, tooth pain can be caused by a variety of tooth problems, such as a cavity, a cracked tooth, swollen gums, an exposed tooth root, or a bacterial infection. The severity of the pain can sometimes be a good indicator of your dental condition. However, if the pain is chronic despite being mild in nature, it may be a good idea to see a dentist right away so a small problem doesn't turn into a large one.
A thorough examination by a dentist is necessary to determine the true case of your toothache. In some cases, the toothache is not caused by a tooth or jaw issue, but was caused by other underlying health problems, such as: angina, heart attack, ear infections, and sinus infections.
What Are The Common Dental Causes Of Toothaches, & What Are The Best Treatments For It?
Dental cavities & abscess:
Dental cavities (caries) are holes in the enamel and dentin, which are the two protective layers of the tooth. Both layers are meant to protect the pulp of your tooth, which is the inner living tooth tissue, where blood vessels and nerves are located.
When you get a cavity in your tooth, this can allow food and bacteria to reach the pulp. This can increase your chances of developing an abscess, which is a tooth infection involving the death of pulp tissue.
Cavities themselves are actually painless - it's what it exposes (your tooth pulp) that is the cause of the pain. To prevent further damage to your tooth, a dental filling or dental sealant is recommended. However, for larger cavities, an onlay or crown may be the best solution. In some case, if the pulp has been infected, a root canal may be necessary before protective treatments can be performed.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the inflammation of the gums and advanced bone loss that surrounds and holds the teeth in place. Gum disease is caused by plaque that accumulate under the gum line, which is a mixture of food, saliva, and bacterial by products. Advanced gum disease can cause the formation of deep gum pockets, which can cause the loss of otherwise healthy teeth.
Family history, habitual smoking, and infrequent flossing are big factors in susceptibility to gum disease. In order to treat gum disease, the dentist must thoroughly clean the teeth and teeth roots, which is called "scaling and root planing" and "subgingival curettage". Scaling and root planing is the procedure of removing plaque and tartar from the teeth roots, while subgingival curettage means the careful removal of infected gum tissue. These are usually performed under local anesthesia, along with a prescription for oral antibiotics to prevent further infection. If gum disease is especially severe, Dr. Lalezarian may recommend a gum operation. As always, every possible alternative will be discussed before you decide on your course of treatment.
Sensitive teeth due to exposed tooth roots
Typically, the roots of your teeth are protected by gum and bone. However, when the roots are exposed due to receding gum and bone, it can become sensitive to cold, hot and sour foods.
Mild root exposure can be treated with topical fluoride gels applied by Dr. Lalezarian or with special toothpastes such as Sensodyne or Denquel. Another option may be to apply "bonding agents" to the exposed roots in order to seal the sensitive areas.
Cracked tooth syndrome
This is a toothache caused by a broken tooth (tooth fracture), rather than a cavity or advanced gum disease. These fractures are generally the result of chewing or biting hard food or objects such as hard candies, bottle caps, nuts, etc. Crowns are usually the recommended treatment for correcting the fracture. In some instances, however, the crack exposes the pulp, which can sometimes result in an abscess. In cases like these, a root canal may need to be performed before a crown is places to reinforce and protect the tooth.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
TMJ is pain in the lower jaw and around the ears, which can have a variety of causes. It can be a result of facial injury, arthritis, teeth grinding, bad bite alignment, and can even be the temporary side effect of wisdom teeth removal.
Usually, TMJ can be treated with over the counter anti-inflammatory medication, a warm compress to the affected areas, lifestyle stress reduction, or even a customized night guard to protect your teeth. For more serious cases of TMJ, further diagnosis by a specialist may be required.
An impacted tooth is when it has failed to emerge into its proper position and remains under gum and/or bone, which is common for wisdom teeth. Impacted teeth can cause pain because of the pressure they put on the surrounding teeth or bone. The crowding can also cause inflammation and infection, and may even alter the alignment and position of the rest of your teeth. The best treatment for impacted wisdom teeth is wisdom teeth extraction, followed by a round of oral antibiotics and over the counter pain relievers.
Summary and Contact Information
If you are experiencing tooth pain and would like to schedule an appointment, please call our office at (310) 275-0838, and our staff will be happy to help you. If your tooth pain is severe enough to merit emergency treatment, please let our representative know right away so we can help you get the treatment you need as soon as possible.