A toothache can strike at any time.

The pain of a toothache can definitely be jarring, and there are many things that can lead to one. So, if you are experiencing any pain at all, take the time to visit your dentist. You may be surprised to learn the cause of it and the many ways it can be treated for good.

What causes a toothache?

There are many things that can cause a toothache, and depending on the problem and pain you are experiencing, our family dentist here in Bloomington, IL, will recommend a specific treatment to address it.

1. Cavity

A cavity develops when bacteria is left to sit on your tooth. Over time, this causes decay on the surface of your tooth and eats away at the layers of enamel and dentin that protect the inner tissues of your tooth, causing pits and holes. While cavities can be prevented at home by following a proper oral hygiene routine that includes brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice a day, flossing, and using a mouthwash, once you have a cavity, you will need to see your dentist to have it filled.

Your dentist will remove the decaying part of your tooth, then use a filling to fill in the hole. If the cavity is just on the surface, you won’t need any numbing medication, but if the cavity goes closer to the root of the tooth, your dentist will use a numbing agent so you don’t feel any pain during the cavity-filling process.

2. Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion occurs when the enamel, or outside layer, of the tooth is worn away. This often happens as a result of the acids in the food we eat. Foods with a high acidic content, like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, pickles, and vinegar, as well as any food or drink high in citric acid, like soda, can cause tooth erosion with excessive consumption over time. Other than brushing your teeth on a consistent basis, a good way to treat tooth erosion is to bolster your intake of fluoride, as that helps maintain the integrity of your tooth’s enamel. You can use a fluoride mouth rinse daily at home, or your dentist can give you a fluoride treatment in their office.

3. Abscess

A tooth abscess is a severe infection in your tooth. This can happen as a result of an untreated crack or hole in your tooth, where an infection has the right conditions to form in the pulp of the tooth. This is not something you can treat at home. You will need to see your dentist for an antibiotic to help treat the infection, and you’ll also need to talk with them about a treatment plan for the abscess itself—be it a filling, root canal,  or other option.

4. Missing Filling

If a filling has fallen out, you will need to see your dentist as soon as you can because a missing filling leaves part of your tooth exposed to bacteria, which can cause further tooth decay or other issues. If you can’t get to a dentist immediately, you can visit a local pharmacy and use a temporary filling kit, which will help keep your tooth protected until you can receive proper treatment.

5. Tooth Fracture

If you have an ache in your mouth that just won’t go away, it’s possible you may have a fractured tooth. Sometimes, the fractures are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye, so your best course of action is to see your dentist, who can then perform a dental X-ray to see where the fracture could be. Depending on the size of the fracture, your dentist could treat it with a filling, a dental crown, or a root canal. In a worst-case scenario, it may have to be extracted.

6. Wisdom Teeth

The wisdom teeth, often known as the third set of molars, can cause quite a bit of pain as they come in. Most people’s wisdom teeth tend to erupt during their late teens or early 20s. If the wisdom teeth are crowding your other teeth, your dentist may opt to remove them, which may require oral surgery if the teeth have not broken through the gums. You should consult with your dentist on the best course of action when it comes to treating wisdom tooth pain, as each person’s experience is a bit different.

7. Clenched Jaw and TMJ Pain

If you habitually clench your jaw or have other TMJ symptoms, it may be painful for you to eat, chew, or talk normally. There are relaxation and jaw-stretching exercises you can do at home to help ease the pain from TMJ or a clenched jaw, but you should always visit your dentist at the first sign of pain so they can make sure there isn’t something more serious going on.

8. Receding Gums

If you have poor oral hygiene or have developed gingivitis, you may notice that your gums are beginning to recede. This happens when the gums pull away from the teeth in response to bacteria buildup, exposing the tooth’s root and causing sensitivity and pain. Your dentist can often help fix receding gums by reshaping them.

Ask your family dentist in Bloomington, Illinois.

It’s always best to stop in and see your dentist any time you experience oral pain. The team at Bloomington Modern Dentistry is happy to discuss any issues you may have with your teeth, so if a toothache ever strikes, please give us a call ASAP so we can get you back to feeling like yourself!