What Causes Toothaches? A Lesson on Tooth Anatomy and Decay
If you’ve been looking for emergency dentistry in Lake Shore East Chicago, you may have passed the point of wondering about what causes toothaches. The amount of pain we feel during a dental emergency is usually so all-consuming, these questions simply flee our heads. However, it’s important to note that a chipped tooth generally doesn’t happen without a preamble. That is to say, the pain we feel is often the result of bad habits we’ve built over time.
Before we dive into the different things that could cause tooth pain, we must give a brief lesson on tooth anatomy. After all, toothaches are usually caused by the erosion of the outermost layer of the tooth – the enamel. If anything manages to go through the hard enamel layer, it will have no trouble working through the porous dentin underneath.
In a matter of days, the decay would reach the pulp cavity in the core of the tooth, which contains nerve endings and blood vessels. At that point, pain is a foregone conclusion. Furthermore, if the underlying cause of the tooth emergency is bacterial, it can result in abscesses — which are essentially pockets of pus — right at the root of the tooth.
We tend to associate most tooth pain with plain old cavities — but acid-producing bacteria aren’t the only things that can lead to the destruction of your teeth. With that in mind, let’s talk about what causes toothaches.
You Think Dentists Are a Pain? Wait Till You Experience Tooth Decay!
If or when we experience tooth decay and pain due to cavities, it probably won’t be a dental emergency. After all, if the bacteria has made its way through the enamel and into the pulp cavity, it’s probably been at it for a while. So really, the best thing we could do for our teeth is get regular dental checkups.
By the time we start feeling the telltale shooting pain coming from our teeth and jaw, it might be too late to avoid a dental intervention. So what could lead to that kind of outcome? Well, lots of things could make us want to schedule an emergency dentist appointment, including:
- Sore gums
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Improper force distribution while biting down
- Tooth clenching and grinding
- Wisdom teeth coming in at odd angles
- Tooth whitening erosion
- Tooth erosion due to acid
So let’s go down the line to establish how each of these things can happen. Sore gums are often caused by inflammation that results in swelling and gum retraction. That can often happen when we fail to clear out the food that gets trapped between our teeth. Additionally, hard foods like popcorn kernels and shells can cause pain by sliding under our gums or even breaking off chunks of our teeth!
Quote: “Some tortures are physical and some are mental,
But the one that is both is dental.” — Ogden Nash
If a dentist failed to properly sand down a new filling or crown, a patient can experience pain every time they bite down. They may not immediately notice the odd distribution of pressure when they chew. However, in this case, the pain would usually be concentrated over that one tooth.
The same kind of pain might appear as a result of the natural shifting of teeth that made one tooth stick out above the rest. That kind of shifting can happen when our wisdom teeth come in and push the other teeth out of alignment.
On the other hand, if the patient has a habit of clenching or grinding their teeth, they may feel a more decentralized toothache that comes and goes at seemingly random intervals. Some people live most of their lives not knowing that they did that in their sleep. However, a dentist would be able to spot the signs immediately.
Most people nowadays make the appearance of their teeth a priority. Simply put, we all want to have pearly white teeth — there’s nothing wrong with that. Still, it should be noted that whitening products contain certain ingredients that can wear away at that outermost layer of our teeth.
Whitening toothpaste usually has abrasive particles that aren’t harmful if we don’t overuse them. However, using these products over a long period could erode the enamel, exposing the sensitive dentin below. The same goes for most other whitening treatments, which is why they should be used sparingly.
There are other, more commonplace ingredients we should avoid completely if you want to prevent acid damage. Citric acid can have a similar effect, which is why we advise against eating or drinking acidic foods too often. However, even our stomach acid can cause tooth decay, which is why people who have acid reflux and those who vomit a lot must be particularly diligent with their dental care.
What to Do In the Event of a Dental Emergency
If you’ve been experiencing toothache symptoms like pain and sensitivity, particularly after eating or drinking cold or sweet foods and beverages, you should call your dentist. They’ll either schedule an appointment for you or refer you to a walk-in dentist if your situation is dire. But what can you expect to happen at the dentist’s office should you require emergency dental services?
Well, if the dentist discovers cavities on your teeth, they might remove it and replace it with a small filling or a crown. If the worst comes to the worst, they might do a root canal procedure and fill the tooth. Alternatively, if the tooth is too far gone, they might extract it and replace it with a single-tooth denture. Fillings, crowns, and dentures are all options you’ll be presented with if you come in with a broken tooth, too.
But what if your pain is caused by an uneven distribution of force because of a high crown that was previously put in? Well, in that case, you could schedule a same-day emergency dental procedure. In all likelihood, your dentist will just sand down the protruding crown that’s causing the issue and polish your tooth before sending you on your way.
Alternatively, if your pain is the result of sore gums, a simple cleaning could provide immediate toothache pain relief. But what if you require emergency dental care while your dentist is on vacation? What if you need one on a Saturday and there’s no weekend emergency dentist in your area?
If you find yourself in those circumstances, you should just do your best to relieve the toothache symptoms with:
- Various over-the-counter painkillers
- Desensitizing toothpaste
- Warm salt water rinses
- Topical anesthetics like benzocaine gel
- Ice pack compresses
What Causes Toothaches and How Can We Prevent Them?
According to this article, people are now more hesitant than ever to visit their dentist, despite the pain they’re feeling. So perhaps we ought to focus on toothache prevention.
Now that you know what causes toothaches, you can probably guess what you could do to prevent one. Naturally, it all comes down to maintaining good oral health by practicing basic dental hygiene. Sure, brushing and flossing may not save you if you bite down on a particularly tough nut in precisely the wrong way, but it won’t hurt, either!