man covering mouth in pain

A Look at What Causes Toothaches and When You Should Visit an Emergency Dentist

Toothaches are your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong with your oral health.

The pain of a toothache can range from a mild ache to a severe throbbing pain that keeps you awake at night, but even if the pain is mild – it shouldn’t be ignored. Ignoring a toothache will likely cause the pain to worsen.

Visit your emergency dentist in Ottawa to treat your toothache immediately. If tooth decay is causing your pain, the sooner the treatment is done the better; otherwise, you may need a root canal treatment to save your tooth.

Understanding Toothache Causes

Within every tooth is a soft tissue called pulp. The pulp contains the tooth’s nerve endings; when nerve endings are irritated they give a feeling of sharp pain. While those with sensitive teeth may feel pain because of hot or cold foods and drinks, it remains that sensitivity is not the worst cause for toothaches.

There are many oral health issues that can cause toothaches.

The most common causes of toothaches include:

  • Infection
  • Tooth decay
  • Cavities
  • Damaged teeth
  • Damaged fillings
  • Dental abscesses
  • Earaches
  • Gum disease
  • Heart issues
  • Sinus infection
  • Wisdom teeth, and
  • Grinding teeth

Decay is one of the leading causes of toothaches. This is usually due to poor oral hygiene or inconsistent oral hygiene habits. Bacteria develop on the teeth and below the gumline by feeding off the sugar that we eat daily. Plaque and tartar buildup and if left untreated, the enamel begins to deteriorate which causes cavities and pain.

Tooth decay can also occur inside the tooth. When there is a bacterial infection inside your tooth, bacteria damages the pulp tissue, which includes nerve tissue and blood vessels in the root of the tooth. Inevitably, this leads to tooth decay, and if left untreated, dental extractions are necessary.

The Symptoms to Look Out For

Depending on the cause of a toothache, individuals may feel different sensations and the severity of the pain may be different as well. Patients are recommended to take note of the frequency and severity of symptoms to give dentists an accurate description of the pain.

Common symptoms of toothaches include:

  • Constant throbbing pain;
  • Pain from applied pressure;
  • Bad taste in mouth;
  • Swollen gums; and,
  • Fevers and headaches.

What to Avoid

Some foods will worsen the pain of a toothache. To minimize discomfort, it is suggested one avoids sugary foods as well as hot and cold foods or drinks.

Consider eating soft foods to lessen any unnecessary pressure on the weakened tooth.

To reduce pain and swelling associated with your toothache, dentists urge patients to avoid applying heat to the affected tooth. If there is a bacterial infection, a gas by-product is created in the mouth that can be trapped inside the tooth and the jawbone. Applying heat risks expanding the gas which will then add pressure to the nerve endings in the jaw. A hot compress on the cheek will draw the gas upwards, resulting in facial swelling. Ultimately, applying heat can result in the need of an emergency dentist because of intense pain.

Instead, it is recommended to gently hold an ice pack on the cheek on the side of the aching tooth. Cold makes the gas contract, which reduces swelling and lessens the pressure on the nerve endings.

At-Home Relief Options

Visiting an emergency dentist is always the best way to handle a toothache, as a professional can remedy the situation before it worsens. However, it is possible to try to reduce the pain while waiting on a dentist using these simple ideas:

  • Do not apply pressure, or lie down, on the side of the affected tooth.
  • Using over-the-counter pain-relief medication (according to directions) to reduce the swelling, fever, and pain.
  • Using lukewarm water to rinse mouth and help remove particles of food stuck between teeth or below the gumline.

Despite a toothache, it is important to continue practicing proper oral hygiene to prevent more bacteria from infecting the oral cavity. Good oral hygiene habits include gentle flossing, brushing teeth after every meal, and using an antibacterial mouthwash.

What Are the Possible Complications from Not Treating a Toothache?

If the cause of a toothache is tooth decay, gum disease, or an infection – to postpone treatment will allow for the disease and ailment to develop and worsen. Such oral health issues can also spread to other teeth and to the gum tissue. When cases advance far enough, root canal treatments and dental extractions are sometimes inevitable. Bacteria in the mouth can also enter the bloodstream, hence the importance of getting treatment as soon as possible.

An emergency dentist can treat cavities and gum disease, prescribe antibiotics, and provide a root canal treatment if necessary to save teeth before it’s too late.

The pain of a toothache is a warning sign that something is wrong.

Visiting an emergency dentist in Ottawa is important to uncover the cause of the pain, receive appropriate treatment, and prevent the problem from getting worse.