Say Goodbye to Your Toothache: When to See a Specialist for Effective Treatment

The toothache is a common dental problem that can cause significant discomfort and pain. While some toothaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, others require the attention of a dental specialist. Green Valley Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center offers a wide range of oral and maxillofacial services, including treatment for the common toothache 

What Is a Toothache? 

A toothache is a pain in or around a tooth. It can be caused by various factors, including tooth decay, gum disease, infection, injury, or teeth grinding. There is a wide range in intensity and duration of pain, from minor to severe. In addition to the pain, you may also experience inflammation, sensitivity to temperature change, and even a fever when you have a toothache. 

woman holding jaw in pain
Causes of Toothaches

There are several causes of toothaches, including: 

Tooth Decay 
Tooth decay is the most common cause of a toothache. It occurs when bacteria in plaque produce acids that break down the tooth enamel, causing decay. Bacteria can survive thanks to the sugar included in our diets. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to cavities, which can cause severe pain and discomfort. 

Gum Disease 
Gum disease is an infection of the gums that can cause toothaches. It occurs when bacteria in the mouth build up and form plaque, leading to inflammation. This can cause the gums to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth and causing sensitivity and pain. 

A toothache might be the result of an infected tooth or gums. It can occur when bacteria enter the tooth through a cavity or crack and cause an abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms at the root of the tooth and can cause severe pain and swelling. 

Grinding of Teeth 
Grinding of teeth, also known as bruxism, can cause toothaches. It can occur during sleep or when awake and can cause wear and tear on the teeth. Over time, bruxism can cause tooth sensitivity and pain. 

Dental Fractures 
A dental fracture can be the result of many causes, including accidental falls, sports injuries, biting down on hard objects, or even teeth grinding (bruxism). These fractures can range from minor chips to more severe cracks that affect the integrity of the tooth’s structure. 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth
The third molars, often referred to as wisdom teeth, are the last set of permanent teeth to come in, usually during the twilight of adolescence or the dawn of adulthood. Often, these teeth lack the space to fully erupt, leading to impaction. This impaction is also a common reason for tooth pain or the toothache. 

Toothache: When to See a Specialist

Experiencing a toothache can be a distressing and uncomfortable situation. Even though you might be able to handle a minor toothache with over-the-counter medication, there are times when you should visit a dental specialist. Here are some guidelines on when to see a professional for your toothache: 

  1. Severe pain: If you are experiencing severe toothache pain that is not alleviated by over-the-counter pain relievers, it is recommended to see a dental specialist. Severe pain may indicate a more serious underlying issue that requires professional attention.

  2. Accompanying symptoms: If your toothache is accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, sensitivity to hot or cold, fever, or difficulty opening your mouth, consulting a specialist is crucial. These symptoms could indicate an infection or abscess that needs immediate treatment.

  3. Prolonged pain: If your toothache persists for more than two days, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with a dental specialist. Prolonged pain may indicate an underlying dental condition that requires professional intervention.

  4. Difficulty swallowing or breathing: If you experience difficulty swallowing or breathing along with your toothache, it is crucial to seek emergency medical attention. These symptoms could be signs of a severe infection or abscess that requires immediate treatment.

  5. History of oral health issues: If you have a history of dental problems or have previously undergone oral surgeries, it’s important to seek specialized care to ensure that your current toothache is effectively addressed without exacerbating existing concerns. 
Treatments for Toothaches

The treatment for a toothache depends on the cause of the pain. Some common treatments include: 

Dental Fillings and Restorations 
When cavities form and compromise the tooth’s integrity, skilled professionals can employ dental fillings to restore the affected tooth. Using high-quality materials such as composite resin or porcelain, we repair the damaged area and ensure a natural appearance that blends seamlessly with your existing teeth. 

Root Canal 
When tooth decay or trauma reaches the inner pulp of the tooth, it can lead to severe pain and discomfort. During root canal therapy, the diseased or damaged pulp is removed, and the tooth’s interiors are cleaned, disinfected, and then sealed to prevent subsequent infection. This procedure not only relieves your pain but also preserves the tooth’s structure, allowing you to maintain your natural smile. 

Tooth extraction is a dental procedure in which a tooth is carefully and intentionally removed from its socket in the jawbone and gum tissue. This procedure is performed for various reasons, including severe tooth decay, infection, gum disease, crowding, trauma, or impacted wisdom teeth. 

Gum Disease Treatment
Gum disease requires a multifaceted approach for effective management. Most dental professionals provide scale and root planing, a thorough cleaning technique that eliminates tartar and dental plaque below the gum line. In advanced cases, surgical interventions such as gum grafting or periodontal surgery may be recommended to restore your gum health and prevent further discomfort. 

Antibiotics and Pain Relievers 
If the toothache is caused by an infection, antibiotics may be necessary to treat the condition. Antibiotics can help to reduce swelling and pain, but they are not a long-term solution. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help relieve toothache pain. However, it’s important to remember that painkillers only mask the pain temporarily and do nothing to address the root cause. 

Saltwater Rinse 
An inflamed tooth may feel better after rinsing with salt water. Swish a mixture of half a teaspoon of salt and eight ounces of lukewarm water in your mouth for several minutes, then spit it out. 

Numbing Pastes or Gels
Numbing pastes or gels containing benzocaine can help dull a toothache’s pain. However, it is advised to use these products sparingly and only as directed as they can cause side effects such as allergic reactions. 

How To Avoid Toothaches

Here are some tips to help you avoid toothaches: 

Brush and Floss Regularly
The most crucial part of preventing a toothache is taking care of your oral health. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, floss and use mouthwash at least once daily, and visit your dentist at least every six months for regular professional cleanings and checkups. These steps are essential for oral health, as each protects your teeth in ways the others can’t. 

Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks 
Sugars and carbohydrates in the food you consume provide a rich environment for the bacteria in your mouth. These bacteria produce a sticky plaque that adheres to the tooth’s surface, causing decay and cavities. Limiting sugary foods and drinks can help prevent tooth decay and reduce the risk of toothaches. 

Drink Plenty of Water
Drinking plenty of water can help to keep your mouth hydrated and reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Water can also help to wash away food particles and bacteria that can cause toothaches. 

Maintain Regular Dental Checkups 
Having your teeth checked on a regular basis might help catch any issues early on before they worsen. Your dentist can identify early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues and provide treatment to prevent toothaches. 

Wear a Mouthguard 
If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a mouthguard can help to protect your teeth and reduce the risk of toothaches. A mouthguard can also help to prevent dental injuries during sports or other physical activities. 

Green Valley Oral Surgery: Your Partner in Pain Relief

At Green Valley Oral Surgery, we understand the debilitating impact of toothaches on your quality of life. Our dedicated team of experienced oral surgeons is committed to providing you with exceptional care, utilizing state-of-the-art techniques and equipment to diagnose and treat toothaches effectively. Whether your toothache requires a dental extraction, root canal therapy, or another specialized procedure, we have the expertise to deliver the relief you need. 

Wrapping Up

Toothaches can be a painful and uncomfortable experience. While some toothaches can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, others require the attention of a dental specialist. Green Valley Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Center offers a wide range of oral and maxillofacial surgery services, including treatments for toothaches. If you are experiencing a toothache, contact Green Valley Oral Surgery to schedule an appointment with a specialist.