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The Tooth about Toothache

At West Vancouver Dental, we strive to ensure that every one of our patients enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. Dr. Tinkle and her friendly and professional staff work hard to meet the individual dental needs of every patient. In addition to restorative, cosmetic, and preventative dental services offered in office, we also provide patients with information they can use to protect their oral health at home.

As with most things, the more people know about their oral health, the better job they can do taking care of their teeth and gums. By taking care of your oral health, you can avoid such common problems as tooth decay and gum disease. While these two conditions can cause a variety of oral health problems, one of the most frequent issues that bring patients into the office is toothache.

A toothache or tooth pain is the result of nerve irritation inside of a tooth. Some of the most common causes of dental pain are injury, decay, infection, and tooth loss. Pain can also occur following a tooth extraction. However, not every source of mouth pain comes from a sensitive tooth. Occasionally pain caused by problems with the jaw, ear, and even the heart can seem to originate from a tooth.

Causes of Toothache

When the central portion of a tooth, known as the pulp, becomes inflamed it can cause tooth pain. The pulp of a tooth contains nerve ending that are extremely sensitive and can cause a great deal of pain when irritated. The inflammation that causes tooth pain may be the result of dental cavities, infection, or trauma. Problems with the jaw, such as TMJ, may cause you to experience pain similar to a toothache.

Failing to practice quality oral health habits on a daily basis allows plaque, a sticky bacteria that builds up in the mouth, to cause tooth decay. Whenever you eat sugar, plaque produces acids that eat away at your teeth’s enamel. Over time, these acids create tiny gaps in your teeth where bacteria begins to accumulate. Bacteria that grow inside of the mouth can contribute to gum disease and dental decay. Both of these problems can become painful and lead to toothache.

Symptoms of Toothache

While jaw pain and toothache are the most common complaints, you may also experience severe pain when exposed to hot or cold stimuli, or when you apply pressure to the face or jaw. The pain caused by toothache may last for several seconds of minutes after the stimulus has been removed. As more pulp becomes inflamed, the pain caused by the toothache becomes more severe. The pain may even seem to radiate out to the jaw, ear, and cheek. Other symptoms that require you visit Dr. Tinkle include:

  • Pain while chewing
  • Sensitivity to cold and hot
  • Discharge or bleeding from areas surrounding a tooth or gums
  • Swelling of the jaw or around the tooth
  • Trauma or injury to the area

These symptoms may indicate dental decay or gum disease. Dental decay, or an area that appears red and swollen around the gum line of a tooth may indicate the source of the pain. Tapping on an infected tooth may make the pain more intense, and could serve to indicate the source of your toothache even if the tooth appears normal.

A toothache needs to be differentiated from additional sources of pain, such as ear or throat pain, that could manifest itself as what seems like tooth pain. Dr. Tinkle can help to determine the source of tooth pain, and recommend treatment options.

Treatment Options

Until you can schedule an appointment to visit Dr. Tinkle, there are a variety of treatment options you can try at home to alleviate tooth pain. Over-the-counter pain medication, a cold compress, and gels designed to help sensitive teeth can all help to easy the pain caused by toothache.

A common folk remedy that recommends placing an aspirin along the gum line near an aching tooth should never be attempted, as the aspirin could seriously burn the lips or gums once dissolved.

If you have any question about temporary remedies to tooth pain, be sure to ask Dr. Tinkle or any of her friendly staff.

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