Most of us have felt the pain of a toothache at least once in our lives. Ouch! With National Toothache Day observed on February 9th, the Surf City Dental team is taking a moment to talk about this all too familiar – and painful – subject.

Toothaches occur when the nerves in the root of a tooth become inflamed or irritated. They can be caused by a number of different issues and even the type of discomfort felt varies from case to case. Some may experience sharp, searing pain while others feel a dull throbbing sensation.

Identifying the underlying reason for this pain is difficult without the assistance of a dental professional. However, certain causes are more likely than others to be the culprit. Let’s talk about four leading sources of tooth pain.

1. Cavities & Tooth Decay

It’s hardly a surprise that cavities take the top spot on this list. According to the CDC, approximately 90% of adults over the age of 20 have had at least one.

Tooth decay, which leads to the formation of cavities, may be the result of not cleaning teeth properly, eating an abundance of sugary or starchy foods, or a buildup of acid on the teeth. When cavities form, they create a small hole in the tooth that exposes the root and gets bigger and bigger over time if left untreated.

What’s the best way to catch a cavity before it becomes a major problem?
Never miss a regular cleaning with your Surf City dentist! Routine dental check-ups help catch cavities and decay in the early stages, making them easier to treat and less likely to result in major issues.

2. Abscessed Tooth

Abscessed teeth are typically caused by a bacterial dental infection. These can occur in different areas around the tooth, depending on where the infection begins. For example:

  • An untreated cavity may lead to a bacterial infection in the pulp chamber, or the central portion of the tooth. This central chamber is filled with nerve endings that are extremely sensitive and painful when exposed.
  • Gum disease may cause an infection in the bone and tissues that support the tooth.
  • Injuries like broken, chipped, or cracked teeth leave the inside of the tooth vulnerable to dental infection.

3. Gum Disease

A buildup of plaque contributes to gum disease and can result in the dreaded toothache as well. Redness and swelling of the gums are both symptoms of this condition and, as with cavities, these symptoms will likely advance into a more serious condition if left unaddressed. If this happens, the gums separate from the tooth, leaving pockets where food collects and bacteria grows.

4. Bruxism

Grinding or clenching your teeth is also known as bruxism and can lead to discomfort because of the stress put on your mouth and jaw. Consistent grinding also wears down the enamel on teeth, exposing the sensitive layer of dentin underneath.

Toothache Prevention & Treatment

The best way to prevent toothaches is to practice proper dental hygiene. Surf City Dental recommends brushing twice a day with an American Dental Association approved toothpaste and flossing before bedtime. Visiting your dentist twice a year for regular dental cleanings is an essential piece of the puzzle as well.

While some home remedies provide temporary relief for minor toothaches, if pain persists for more than one or two days, get in touch with your dentist. As you’ve likely gathered, ignoring a toothache only leads to more damage and discomfort.

At Surf City Dental, our ultimate goal is to prevent toothaches in our patients by offering sound dental advice, solutions, and of course, treatments tailored to each individual patient’s needs. However, sometimes tooth pain can’t be avoided. If you find your tooth aching, give us a call. We’ll have you smiling again in no time!