When to Visit the Dentist for a Toothache
Teeth are not supposed to hurt. Dental pain that persists is always a sign of a more serious problem. So, what is it that gives us the courage to pull a child from a burning house, but makes us hesitate to call the dentist when we have a toothache?
There are several conditions that can make a tooth hurt, and not all of them are dental emergencies. Three of the most common sources of dental pain are:
- Tooth and jaw pain from grinding or clenching teeth.
This dull pain is often felt in the morning across one or multiple teeth. While it may be alleviated with over-the-counter painkillers, it is a signal to see your dentist to prevent further damage or TMJ. Long term, pressure on the jaw and wear to the protective enamel from teeth grinding opens the door to increased tooth decay, cavities, and cracked teeth.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages, or cold air.
Many conditions can create sensitivity including overuse of whiteners, hard brushing, gum recession, a cracked or abscessed tooth or tooth decay. Your dentist can easily diagnose your specific source of tooth sensitivity and provide the right solution.
- Sharp tooth pain with or without swelling.
A sharp stabbing pain in the tooth is a common signal of a cavity or abscess, (an infection around the root of the tooth). When your face starts swelling, you have a true dental emergency. The infection that started with your tooth is spreading. Dental infections are serious and can spread into the jaw, neck, brain and other parts of the body. This is not the time to try a home remedy such as swirling a shot of whiskey in your mouth to “disinfect” your tooth. Antibiotics will be needed, so call your dentist right away. There is dental practice coverage seven days a week for just this type of emergency.
Next time a toothache arises, be brave and call the dentist. Whitmore Dental welcomes everyone, even if you haven’t been to a dentist in years. We are judgment-free and ready to help you to create lasting oral health. Contact us today.