Teeth Hurting? Here’s Why You Should NEVER Ignore a Toothache
Approximately 48% of the adult population didn’t see an NHS dentist in 2017.
As a result of the rising costs of dental care, many people in the UK avoid visiting the dentist. But when you’re experiencing a toothache, putting off a visit to the dentist could actually be dangerous.
A toothache can range from throbbing to stabbing pain and may be signalling a number of different oral health issues. Regardless of the extent of pain and its cause, when you have a toothache that doesn’t go away, visiting a dentist is imperative. Keep reading to find out why.
Symptoms of a Dental Problem
If you’re experiencing any of these 3 symptoms, it’s time to visit your dentist in Clacton.
While you might occasionally feel pain in your teeth, persistent pain is cause for concern. Any stabbing or throbbing that lasts for several days is a sign of a much larger problem.
And, once it begins, tooth pain rarely gets better with time. A toothache may be a sign of decay, infection, or fracture. The sooner you identify the problem, the less chance it has to worsen with time.
Bleeding Gums When Brushing or Flossing
It’s common for your gums to bleed a little when flossing or brushing. But when the bleeding is persistent and in excess, you might have a larger issue with your oral health.
Your mouth is filled with different kinds of bacteria. One kind of bacteria forms a film over your teeth that can be cleaned away with brushing and flossing. But when it isn’t regularly cleared, the bacteria can cause an infection in your gums.
If a gum infection isn’t treated, the bacteria will enter the jawbone. This leads to jawbone loss which affects the jaws ability to keep your teeth in place. Loosened teeth may eventually have to be extracted.
Bleeding while brushing or flossing might be an early symptom of gum disease or gingivitis. Regardless of the amount, when you notice bleeding you should talk to your dentist and have them check the state of your gums and jawbone.
A problem with your tooth doesn’t always lead to pain or bleeding. Sometimes, a simple sensitivity can signal a big problem.
While an occasional sensitivity is probably nothing to worry about, when it’s persistent, you should discuss it with your dentist. It’s possible that you’re brushing too hard and wearing at your enamel. But a sensitivity to hot or cold as well as sugary food and drink might be a symptom of tooth decay.
What Causes a Toothache?
There are a number of oral health issues that can cause a toothache, bleeding, or tooth sensitivities. We discuss each of these in more detail below.
Every tooth contains a nerve that brings oxygen and nutrients to the tissue around your tooth. This nerve is protected by your enamel: a hard outer coating that keeps the nerve safe from air, food, and other things that enter your mouth.
At the same time, your mouth is filled with different tiny, living bacteria. They live on the gums, teeth, and tongue. While some of these organisms are good for your oral health, others are harmful.
Of the harmful bacteria are those that convert the sugars we eat into acids to create their perfect living and breeding environment. When there are too many of these bacteria, they eat away at your enamel.
The bacteria destroy your tooth enamel and eventually reach the gum tissue through a hole. This hole is otherwise known as a cavity. Cavities are the most common cause of tooth pain and your body has no way of repairing them on its own.
This permanent hole in your tooth must be repaired before it spreads. It causes you pain as the nerve is exposed to food, water, and air.
The pain worsens as the tooth decay increases and more of the nerve is exposed to the elements. You might also experience a throbbing pain in your jaw or a localized sting upon pressing down on the decaying tooth.
Wisdom teeth are the 4 teeth at the back of your jaw. The wisdom teeth typically begin to break through the gum of adults between the ages of 17 and 25. Most people have their wisdom teeth removed because:
- They grow in on the wrong angle and put pressure on other teeth.
- They’re too big to fit your mouth and jaw.
- They’re trapped under your jawbone or gums (i.e. impacted).
- They’re too far back to brush and clean, which increases the potential for cavities and gum disease.
When wisdom teeth grow in incorrectly, are too big, or are impacted, this can cause pain and infection. It can also lead to swelling of the rear jaw as well as the face.
As mentioned, the bacteria that forms over your teeth must be removed regularly with brushing and flossing. When they aren’t removed, they build up and cause an infection in your gum tissue.
Over time, the bacteria will eat away to the jawbone and cause bone loss and loose teeth. Gum disease causes pain, swelling, and bleeding.
Gum disease, wisdom teeth, and cavities are common causes of toothaches. But there are other reasons you might experience a toothache.
If you have sinus problems, this might affect your teeth. Troubles with your sinuses can cause your nerve to inflame. This leads to oral pain that can be treated by addressing the sinuses.
An ear infection might also cause oral pain. Interestingly, so can a heart attack. Speaking to your dentist can help rule out issues with tooth decay and infection and identify a larger problem with your health.
What Happens When You Ignore a Toothache?
Pain, bleeding, or sensitivity in any part of the body is how your body tells you that something is wrong. A toothache is no exception. When you experience any of the above symptoms, talking to your dentist should be your first priority.
Because your body is telling you that something is wrong, you should listen. If you ignore a toothache, the problem is sure to get worse. Below we explain how a simple cavity can progress to something far more dangerous (and painful).
From Cavity to Abscess
If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to an abscess. By the time it’s reached the point of an abscess, you can no longer delay going to see a dentist. Letting an abscess go untreated can cause a fracture, which we’ll talk more about next.
An abscess occurs when the bacterial infection destroys the nerve and reaches your gums and jawbone. This is extremely painful. It causes swelling and heat because the infection sits at the base of the infected tooth.
From Abscess to Fracture
An infection literally eats away at your tooth and nerve. As it continues to eat away, your tooth loses strength. It will no longer be able to hold up when you bite or chew food.
A fracture usually starts off as a small crack. It will cause the tooth to split in half. When that happens, the interior of your tooth is exposed to air, water, and food, and will cause immense pain.
If your tooth fractures and the interior is exposed, your dentist won’t be able to save the tooth. The only remedy for a fractured tooth is to remove it entirely. It can then be replaced with an implant.
Any infection in your tooth, gums, or jaw will spread. Through your mouth, the infection has direct access to your bloodstream and can be very dangerous.
When an infection is spread through your bloodstream it goes beyond throbbing and shooting pain and may cause fevers. Remember that your mouth is close to both your face and brain. The infection can easily spread to the brain and result in death if left untreated.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay
Preventing cavities and infection requires that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. But there are a few other things you can do to maintain good oral health. These include:
- Cleaning between the teeth with floss or interdental cleaners
- Rinsing with mouthwash once per day
- Eating healthy meals and avoiding too much sugar and carbohydrates
- Drinking fluoridated water
Consider using supplemental fluoride treatments. And perhaps most importantly, visit your dentist regularly. Beyond providing a regular deep cleaning, they can offer suggestions and recommendations specific to your needs.
Are You Taking Care of Your Teeth?
A toothache is your bodies way of telling you that something is wrong. Whether it’s in the form of pain, swelling, bleeding, or sensitivity, a toothache might signal that you have a cavity or infection. It’s important to have these symptoms checked out right away – a tooth infection can be dangerous if left untreated.
And for more tips and advice on taking care of your oral health, check out our blog.