Toothaches happen to everyone from time to time, but when should you see an emergency dentist for your tooth pain? The truth is, most oral pain should be evaluated by a dental professional as soon as possible. While the underlying cause may be benign, some tooth pain is the result of a serious dental condition that could lead to complications without prompt treatment.
Possible causes of tooth pain
Minor tooth pain that resolves itself in a day or so is not a cause for alarm. However, when tooth pain is sudden or severe, do not wait to see a dentist for days or weeks; make an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible. Serious tooth pain could be a sign of a major dental problem.
One of the most common causes of tooth pain is dental decay. When patients develop a cavity, bacteria have penetrated the enamel and now have access to the tooth pulp and nerves. Bacteria can damage these sensitive structures when cavities develop, leading to tooth pain.
Gingivitis and other types of gum disease are caused by chronic inflammation of the gums. This occurs when plaque and bacteria build up along the gum line and cause pain, both in the gums and teeth. Gum disease can cause gums to recede and expose the roots of teeth, which can lead to more sensitivity and pain. It can also promote tooth decay and infection, both of which cause discomfort.
Severe tooth pain is often one of the symptoms of an infection. The pain is usually accompanied by inflammation and oozing around the area, as well as a fever. Dental infections can make their way to the bloodstream if left untreated. This can cause sepsis in some patients, which can be fatal in severe situations. If an infection is suspected, see an emergency dentist right away.
Jaw disorders and chronic tooth grinding can cause serious tooth pain and joint inflammation. The pressure placed on teeth from these conditions can also lead to major damage. Patients may chip or crack a back tooth without realizing it, which could also be the cause of a severe toothache.
Treatment options for tooth pain
Tooth pain caused by cavities or gum disease is likely to persist until a dentist is able to remove the plaque and bacteria causing these issues and the surrounding tissues are repaired and healed. Injured and damaged teeth must also be repaired before the pain subsided. If tooth pain is due to an infection, antibiotics may help.
Pain caused by TMJ disorders and bruxism can be treated with cold compresses, a soft-food diet, and over-the-counter medications on a temporary basis. These issues usually require other treatments or dental work to relieve chronic dental pain.
All tooth pain should be taken seriously. Patients who experience a sudden or severe toothache should see an emergency dentist as soon as possible. This allows patients to avoid complications while getting relief in a timely manner.
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