If your teeth could talk, there wouldn’t be any need for toothaches: Your tooth could simply tell you something’s not right. Without a “voice,” tooth pain is the only way to get the message across. And if you ignore that ache, you could be setting yourself up for a more serious problem.
At Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC in New York City, our team of skilled, compassionate dental professionals use state-of-the-art techniques to diagnose and treat toothaches, relieving your symptoms while helping you keep your teeth, gums, and other tissues healthy. Here’s how to tell if your toothache means it’s time to make an appointment.
When to worry about tooth pain
A lot of issues can cause a toothache, which is probably one big reason why they’re so common. So when is a toothache a cause for concern? This is an easy question to answer: Any toothache is always a cause for concern.
That might sound a little glib, but it’s true: Tooth pain is a definite sign that there’s a problem with your tooth, your gums, or other surrounding or supportive structures. It may be a temporary problem, like irritation that comes from biting down on something hard, or it could be a sign of deep decay, gum disease, infection, or another oral health problem that needs prompt treatment.
The problem is, without a dental exam, it can be difficult to know how serious that tooth pain really is. There are some clues, though, that can help guide your decision about whether or not you need to schedule an appointment.
Your pain is persistent
Maybe you bit a little too hard at lunch. Or maybe there’s a tiny bit of food wedged between two teeth. Maybe you snacked on a whole bag of chips, and your gums are irritated. These can all cause tooth pain, but with a little time and careful brushing and flossing, these types of temporary issues typically go away within 24 hours or less.
If, however, you have tooth pain that lasts more than a day, there’s a good chance it’s related to something more serious. Delaying treatment could allow that problem to get a lot worse.
Your pain is getting worse
Another sign of an underlying problem is pain that gets worse over time. Typically, increasing or worsening pain happens when that problem is getting worse, too. That could mean an infection that’s spreading or a cavity that’s attacking the deeper layers of your tooth.
Your pain happens when you bite
A toothache that happens when you bite or pain that gets worse when you bite could mean you have a cavity or an infection around the base of the tooth. When you place pressure on the tooth (from biting or chewing), it irritates tiny nerve endings.
Your pain is accompanied by other symptoms
On its own, a toothache is worrisome enough. But you should definitely call the office right away if it’s accompanied by symptoms like:
- Gum swelling or cheek swelling
- Bleeding gums
- Loose tooth
- Change in how you close your mouth
- Change in how your teeth meet or “fit” together
- Persistent bad breath or sour taste
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Sinus pain
These can all indicate serious problems, like a deep infection or even oral cancer.
Pain follows an accident
If you have a toothache after a car accident, a fall, or an impact to your face (like being hit with a ball, for example), there’s a good chance your tooth or the tissues supporting it have been damaged, too. It could just be a little swelling that will go away over time, or it could be a cracked tooth or an injury to the gums or jaw. The only way to know for sure is to have an exam.
It’s been a while since your last exam
If you’ve been skipping your twice-yearly checkups, your risk for cavities and gum disease can increase significantly. Having a toothache means it’s time to come in so we can relieve your pain and treat any underlying damage — plus provide preventive care that can help protect against pain in the future.
Never ignore tooth pain
Although some types of tooth pain are temporary and nothing to worry about, many types are associated with underlying problems, like gum disease or deep infection that can spread to other tissues and other parts of your body. Having tooth pain evaluated early ensures you get the most appropriate treatment to maintain your smile and preserve your oral health.
To learn what’s causing your tooth pain, call 929-229-0255 or book an appointment online at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC today.