A Guide to Toothache

Toothache can make life a misery. Whether it is a constant throbbing pain or a sharp, sudden stab when we eat or drink, it usually indicates that one of our teeth is not as healthy as it should be. A visit to the dentist beckons.

Many people try to delay their visits to the dentist for as long as possible. But this is a mistake and a quick look at what causes toothache shows us why.

Our teeth are protected by a hard outer surface, called enamel, and a tough inner wall, called dentin. At the same time, however, these tough defences are constantly under attack. They come under attack from plaque, which builds up on our teeth and reacts with sugary foods to create acid. This acid then erodes the enamel on our teeth, leading to decay.

Decay is the major source of toothache. If plaque is not regularly removed from the teeth, the acid it produces causes cavities to form in the teeth which grow bigger and bigger. Eventually, those cavities reach the inner pulp of the tooth which then becomes exposed and infected.

Therefore, it is important that you visit your dentist regularly for two reasons. Firstly, your dentist can ensure that plaque is not building up on your teeth. Secondly, your dentist can spot cavities early and fill them before they become a serious problem.

As with most other dental issues, if you ignore something it will not go away. A small cavity grows into a bigger cavity. From here, the pulp which contains the nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive becomes infected. If this infection is not treated, it can form an abscess which causes the gum and cheek to swell up.

What can you try to do to prevent toothache? Your first step must be to try and stop plaque from building up on your teeth. The best way to remove plaque is by regular brushing. Your should brush your teeth twice every day. Most dentists will also recommend that you floss regularly too. Flossing helps to get rid of the food and other debris that builds up in between your teeth where your brush does not necessarily reach.

Secondly, you should try to avoid sugary snack and drinks. These are the kinds of foods that react with the plaque on your teeth to cause acid. It is this acid that erodes the enamel and causes tooth decay. Therefore, by avoiding sugary snacks and drinks, you can help to avoid the formation of tooth cavities.

While cavities can take a long time to develop, you will not necessarily experience any pain from a small cavity. Only your dentist may notice these. Therefore, the decay can be eating away at your tooth for a long time before the toothache arrives suddenly and without much warning. You should make an appointment to visit your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, over-the-counter painkillers may help to ease the discomfort.

Most cases of decay and toothache can be caught early enough and remedied with a simple cavity filling. Your dentist will identify the hole in the tooth which is causing the pain, clear away the decay and fill the hole with a tough, durable material.

On occasions, if the plaque has eaten away a significant proportion of the tooth, it may have become cracked, split or fractured. If this happens and the structure of the tooth is affected, a filling may not be possible. However, your dentist may still be able to save the tooth by fitting a crown.

As the decay progresses, the pain becomes even more intense and the treatment required becomes more complex and costly. Once the pulp becomes infected and an abscess forms, root canal treatment is required. When the dentist clears out the infected pulp, the tooth’s links to the blood and nervous systems have been lost. The tooth, therefore, is essentially dead.

Often, pain is a warning sign from our body that we need to have something fixed. This is very much the case with toothache. However, as you can see, it is important that you do not wait until have toothache before visiting your dentist. The best approach to looking after your teeth is to be proactive; visit your dentist regularly and keep your teeth in tip-top condition. If you look after your teeth in the right way, decay should not be a problem.