The world can seemingly come to a screeching halt when you’re suffering from a bad toothache; but even if things seem quite grim, how do you know if what you’re dealing with is truly an emergency? Keep reading to learn more from your dentist about tooth pain and when it’s considered a dental emergency, along with some tips for alleviating your discomfort.
Common Culprits of Tooth Pain
Tooth pain usually occurs when a tooth is exposed to a significant amount of pressure or trauma, which can result from a wide variety of causes. Here are a few of the most common culprits:
- Tooth decay – Cavities that form from untreated decay often cause aggravating oral pain, since the tooth’s protective enamel has been compromised. This is usually exacerbated by biting into hot or cold objects.
- Oral infection – If a cavity remains untreated, the entire tooth can become infected and sore, which usually necessitates a root canal. However, root canals are far less painful than the infection that warrants them!
- Oral trauma – If you get smacked in the face or mouth, it could certainly injure one of your teeth and cause a lot of pain until the issue is resolved.
- Gum disease – Inadequate oral hygiene often leads to gum disease, which can cause painful issues like swelling, inflammation, and gum line recession.
- Bruxism – Also known simply as teeth grinding, this condition can lead to painful wear and tear on your teeth in addition to placing excessive amounts of pressure on your jaw.
When Is Tooth Pain Considered a Dental Emergency?
Tooth pain isn’t something that tends to dissipate on its own; remember, the pain is a symptom of the problem, rather than the actual problem itself. That said, you should seek help from your emergency dentist if you’re experiencing persistent or chronic pain that lasts for over 12 hours. Also, be mindful of any bleeding or fever-like symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends treating dental emergencies within 24 hours of their onset, but depending on their severity, seeking treatment as quickly as possible is often advisable.
Tips for Addressing Tooth Pain
It’s always nice to have an idea of what can immediately be done upon experiencing tooth pain. Here are some tips to help you alleviate your discomfort as you’re waiting to see your dentist:
- Apply cold compresses to the cheek in the area where the pain is for 20 minutes at a time; this can help reduce any swelling and inflammation.
- Rinse the mouth with warm salt water; if there is any debris present around the teeth, you can use dental floss to carefully remove it.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers as necessary for reducing discomfort.
Tooth pain shouldn’t be needlessly endured or entirely ignored; contacting your emergency dentist quickly could be the difference between a minor issue getting quickly resolved or having the chance to progressively worsen.
About the Author
Dr. Scott Wehrkamp received his DDS from the Loyola University Chicago School of Dentistry and has proudly served patients and families in the Brandon, SD community for several years. His practice is thrilled to offer a wide range of services including emergency dentistry. If you or a loved one is suffering from unrelenting tooth pain, don’t hesitate to contact the practice for swift assistance. Telephone: (605) 546-9091.