Sugars, which can present in different foods and drinks, or in its pure form, feed harmful bacteria in your mouth. The reaction of these bacteria and sugars produce acids which attack the surfaces of your teeth. This disease process is called caries. This is a continuous daily process which we try to keep in balance. Endodontist and restorative dentist Dr Stefan Ciapryna explains the commonest causes of toothache and how dental pain is diagnosed.
Other than tooth decay, what commonly causes toothache?
Toothache can be caused by various things apart from decay. Examples of these include a cracked or damaged tooth, a broken or loose filling, sensitivity, problems with your gums or gum disease, or even braces. These can cause moderate toothache. Sometimes a tooth can also become infected and this can cause swelling, which is known as an “abscess” where pain can be severe.
How is the cause of dental pain diagnosed?
Pain is initially diagnosed by the dentist asking you a series of questions, relating to what you ate when the pain is present, and what causes it. They will continue by checking your teeth to check for cavities or an abscess or gum related issues, and may even test the teeth with some cold, or ask you to bite together to check for cracks. Photographs of the tooth (or teeth) and X-rays are finally taken to pinpoint the cause of the dental pain.
Will root canal treatment always be necessary to treat toothache?
The simple answer is no. Nowadays, your dentist has various medications and tools to help entirely remove or prevent toothache. Depending on what caused the toothache, they may prescribe a special toothpaste to help with sensitivity, make a nightguard to prevent your teeth cracking, or they may even replace a filling. A root canal treatment is only ever needed if the nerve of your tooth is infected and this treatment removes bacteria from inside your tooth.