Common Causes Of Toothache

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It's 2 AM and you are suddenly awakened by a throbbing pain in your lower jaw.

You're at a seminar and all of a sudden, as you sip a cold beverage, you double down in pain.
Then it hits you. You're experiencing a toothache.

Your tooth is killing you!

If you've ever been in these unfortunate situations, you undoubtedly know what it feels like. The question is: Do you know why?

Let's explore what the common causes for toothaches are:

The Tooth Of The Matter

Toothaches are a distinct form of pain than that caused from a hurting tooth. The later can be caused when you hit your mouth, or injure your tooth as a result of some external trauma. Toothaches are pain emanating in or around a tooth or the jaw, and is commonly the result of tooth decay.

One can often feel the area surrounding the decayed tooth to be tender and sore to the touch.    Very often, toothaches start suddenly, and vary in intensity from a dull ache throughout the day, to severe throbbing pain at night. They can also be stubbornly persistent, or could wander in and out of our lives intermittently.

Lady with red hair and teeth pain.

Pulp Friction

Our teeth are composed of several layers, the innermost of which is known as dental pulp. Pulps are a central hub of blood vessels and highly sensitive nerve endings. When this inner layer gets infected, it becomes inflamed as a result of:

  • A decaying tooth which give rise to cavities on the outer layer
  • Cracked tooth as a result of force/stress or erosion and weakness of the outer layer
  • Broken or loose fillings
  • Receding or shrinking gum lines
  • Abscess or puss due to bacterial infestation

Other factors, like swollen or sore gums around the fractured tooth, sinus inflammation, ulcers on the gums or injuries to the temporomandibular joint, may also bring about inflammation. As the pulp is now vulnerable and exposed, any external friction, such as contact with food particles, hot or cold beverages or even jarring of the mouth or jaws, can initiate a sequence of aches.


Root Cause Treatments

Treating a toothache will depend on the underlying root cause of its inception. In some instances, a dentist may prescribe a course of antibiotics to fight the infection. In most cases

However, the infection is just a symptom, which might need to be cleared up before the root cause of the toothache is addressed.

Dentists will usually X-ray the part of the mouth/jaw where the ache exists. If it is found that there is decay, it will need to be cleared and replaced with fillings. In cases where pulp infection is severe, the dentist may need to remove the infected pulp and fill the gap in a procedure commonly known as a Root Canal. Often, the residual tooth is capped or crowned once the procedure is completed.

In severe cases of toothache where medicine and home remedies don't work, and where neither of the above procedures are effective, the offending tooth may need to be extracted all together.
Lady with mouth open, getting teeth checked.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

The best way to prevent toothache is to proactively exert an ounce of prevention.

This may be done by:

  • Practicing good dental hygiene at home: Brushing regularly, and flossing at least once a day
  • Never go to bed without brushing, flossing and rinsing, especially after eating highly acidic or sweetened foods
  • Don't use your tooth as an implement – to open soda or beer bottle caps, for instance!
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year for a complete checkup and professional cleaning

If these basic prevention tips are followed, your teeth should be in excellent shape, long after the rest of your body has decayed and decomposed! Follow these tips wisely and you will never have to undergo expensive and painful treatments such root canal therapy or tooth extractions!


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