Many of us have had sleepless nights because of a dreaded toothache. The lucky ones may of had an inkling of warning, but most are totally caught off guard by this dental emergency. As a practicing dentist in Naples, Florida, there are three common causes of toothaches that we treat.
The most common toothache we treat is the dreaded dental abscess. An abscess is an infection of the inside of the tooth, which quickly spreads into the jaw bone causing pressure and pain. This can be caused by deep dental decay, a fractured tooth, or even excessive tooth grinding. There is little a patient can do on their own to treat the abscess. A trip to the dentist for definitive diagnosis and treatment is necessary. Antibiotics may be prescribed, and a treatment plan to remove the infection would be discussed.
A second common toothache we see actually involves infection of the surrounding gum tissue. Periodontal disease, poor oral hygiene, thick buildup of plaque, and even food particles can get lodged in the gums, causing an inflammatory response and infection. Again, a trip to the dentist for proper diagnosis is necessary. An x-ray may be taken to verify the etiology. In cases of gingival abscesses, a thorough cleaning out of the area usually is all that is necessary. Often times, antibiotics may also be prescribed.
Lastly, a very common cause of a toothache involves a fractured tooth. If a tooth fractures beyond the thickness of enamel, the second layer of tooth becomes exposed, and can be sensitive. Sometimes the fracture extends all the way into the nerve of the tooth, which is usually accompanied by extreme discomfort. A dentist will be able to evaluate the extent of the fracture, and treat accordingly.
The take home message is...don't wait for it to go away on its own. Toothaches usually require dental intervention. The earlier the intervention, usually it means less discomfort, less treatment, and less headaches.
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