There are very few things that ruin your day more quickly than tooth pain. It makes eating, sleeping, and even just living your life awful. What’s worse is that oftentimes you don’t even know why your tooth is bothering you so much. Your emergency dentist can fix that by explaining the four types of tooth pain and what they mean below.
Throbbing, Intense Pain
If your pain is serious enough to interfere with your daily life, you should contact your emergency dentist right away. Your tooth pain may be accompanied by swelling of the gums and even the face surrounding the tooth. This might be a sign of a serious infection, which should be treated immediately. Other signs of an infection include pain when chewing, bleeding gums, and discoloration of the gums.
More often than not, mouth infections happen when bacteria that cause cavities reach the sensitive inner layer of the tooth, called the dental pulp. The pulp houses the nerves of the tooth, which is why pain is so severe when decay reaches that area. Your dentist may recommend a root canal to remove the infected nerve from the tooth and relieve your pain.
Sharp, Inconsistent Pain
If your pain comes and goes, pay attention to exactly when you feel it. Is it when you chew? Yawn? Touch the tooth? You could also check to see if that tooth has a crown of filling, as inconsistent pain may be a sign that previous dental work as gone awry. You might also have a small fracture in your tooth enamel or a tiny cavity. Whatever the problem, you should see your emergency dentist as soon as you can.
Dull, Persistent Aches
This is the most common kind of tooth pain. Like the previous kind, you’ll have to pay attention to when it really hurts. How long does the pain last? Are there times of the day when it’s more or less painful, like mealtimes? Is it triggered by anything specific, like temperatures or certain movements?
If the pain is minor and your gums are swollen, you might have a piece of food stuck in your teeth. Flossing might dislodge the object. If not, it’s possible you grind your teeth at night. Ask your dentist about a nightguard, a tray designed to fit snugly over your teeth to prevent harmful contact.
When you sip hot coffee or cold water, does it send a wave of pain through your mouth? Your teeth might be sensitive to extreme temperatures. Pay attention to exactly how long your pain lasts after the hot or cold stimulus is removed. If it lasts for more than 30 seconds, it might be a sign of serious decay and you might require root canal therapy. If not, then it could be worn down tooth enamel. Try out a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
Tooth pain is arguably one of the worst types of pain. If you are experiencing any at all, it’s best to contact your dentist.
About the Author
Dr. Gene Gutman earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Temple University Dental School more than 30 years ago and has been providing quality dental care in the Bensalem, PA area ever since. He is also eligible for a Fellowship with the Academy of General Dentistry. His practice keeps time in their schedules for dental emergencies like tooth pain. If you find yourself with an unexplained toothache, contact Dr. Gutman at (215) 752-5911.