What is a Toothache? Should I Visit a Dentist?

girl with toothache

There’s no doubt about it, tooth pain is a disruptive and aggravating sensation. If you’ve been experiencing pain in your mouth, you may be wondering is this a passing pain or something more serious. What is a tooth ache? Should I go see a dentist near me?

There are many causes for tooth pain, as well as various ways a tooth ache can manifest. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common symptoms and causes, and discuss when it’s necessary to see a professional. The bottom line: it’s important to take your oral health seriously. If you think something might need medical attention, it’s always smart to see a dentist as soon as possible.

What is a Toothache? Describing Tooth Pain

Tooth pain is an umbrella term that refers to any pain you experience in or around a specific tooth. Tooth pain might be the direct result of a tooth-specific issue, but it also might be referred-pain from other ailments.

Common toothache symptoms include:

  • A throbbing sensation in or around a specific area in the gums or teeth.
  • Sharp pain when a specific tooth is touched, when eating, or when biting down.
  • Oral sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweetness, particularly when eating.
  • Persistent aching in the jaw, teeth, or gums.
  • Swelling in the gums or mouth.
  • Fever.

Causes of Tooth Pain

Once you’ve described the type of discomfort you’re feeling, it’s time to identify the underlying cause. Remember, there are many reasons you might be experiencing pain and the best way to get a proper diagnosis is to go see a dental professional.

Common causes for toothaches include:

  • Infection in the tooth or gum, which can stem from underlying issues like undiagnosed cavities or gingivitis.
  • An abscess in the tooth or gum, often the result of an infection that hasn’t been addressed properly.
  • Impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Grinding or clenching teeth, particularly while sleeping.
  • Tooth injury or trauma.
  • Loose fillings or cracked crowns.

In some instances your tooth pain might be referred pain due to other inflammation in the body. Pain and aching in the teeth and jaw can be caused by illnesses like sinusitis and migraines. Once your dentist has ruled out any oral issues, you should seek further treatment from a medical professional.

When to See a Dentist

Minor tooth pain can be treated at home with over-the-counter pain relievers, oral numbing gels, and cold compresses. While these methods might alleviate symptoms temporarily, it’s important to keep an eye on your condition and to take prompt action if symptoms worsen. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and seeing a dentist sooner rather than later might prevent complications down the road.  

You should go seek professional treatment from a dentist if:

  • Pain persists for more than a day.
  • Pain increases dramatically.
  • Inflammation increases around a specific tooth and / or gums.
  • Significant swelling or bleeding occurs.
  • Fever persists.

In some rare cases tooth pain is an indication of a real dental emergency. In this situation it’s best to seek help immediately, and not to wait for an appointment with your regular dentist.

Seek immediate emergency help if:

  • You experience drastic swelling in the mouth or throat.
  • Your tooth pain is accompanied by coughing / wheezing / or chest pain.
  • You have a history of heart disease.

What to Expect From the Dentist

Just as there are many different causes for tooth pain, there are also many different treatment routes available. Your dentist will likely start by asking you a few routine questions about the nature of your pain, how long you’ve noticed discomfort, and if you’ve done anything at home to treat the pain. You might also need to have some x-rays taken, so your dentist can see the underlying cause more clearly.

Solutions for sensitivity might be simple as using a sensitive-tooth toothpaste, or having a filling repaired. If you grind your teeth at night, your dentist might fit you with a bite-guard to wear while you sleep.

In the case of infection, you might need to have a cavity filled, or a root canal performed. In rare cases you may need other forms of oral surgery including tooth removal. If your pain stems from impacted wisdom teeth, you’ll likely need to schedule an extraction.

Finding a Dentist Near Me

At Treasured Smiles Adult and Cosmetic Dentistry, we put our patients above all else. We’re dedicated to providing top-notch care in an environment that prioritizes comfort and communication. Contact our team of professionals to schedule a consultation in our state-of-the-art care facility.

We’re committed to helping you come up with a treatment plan that works both now and in the future. With preventative care and regular visits, it’s easy to prevent tooth aches long-term. Remember, good health starts with your teeth!