25 May Toothache: When is it time to visit the dentist?
A toothache can occur for many reasons. Food debris caught between teeth can be painful, and flossing can usually resolve the problem. But a traumatic event like a fall might result in oral discomfort if the teeth or mouth were impacted. If your toothache is persistent or the ache accelerates to severe pain, it is time to visit the dentist.
What constitutes a dental emergency?
If you were up all night in agony, this is an emergency. But if your toothache has been present for several days and the discomfort has not increased, you can generally wait another day or two (an over-the-counter analgesic might provide relief until you can be seen). But an on-going toothache usually signifies a problem.
Conditions that warrant seeing the dentist include:
Bleeding gums – Gum tissue should not bleed without provocation (you might make your gums bleed if you are using a hard bristle brush or exerting excessive pressure). Healthy gum tissue is pink, not red, and is not puffy or swollen. If these symptoms are present, they might indicate the onset of gingivitis.
Chronic bad breath – If you can’t blame it on what you just ate, you might have gum disease.
Loose teeth – Teeth pulling away from gum tissue can be symptoms of gum disease.
If you are aware that your dental hygiene habits have not been up to par, that toothache might be attributable to dental decay. Once the protective dental enamel has been breached, the decayed tooth can become sensitive to temperature, foods, and biting with it.
Failure to follow up and seek help might result in the need for root canal therapy or treatment for an abscess. Resolving these problems require time consuming and costly dental visits you might have been able to prevent with a regular daily oral hygiene regimen of brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist every six months for cleaning and exam.
Those regular dental visits not only spot problems like decay or disease before they can escalate, but your dentist will also be watching for signs of other more serious problems like oral cancer. If you experience a mouth sore or observe a spot that is unusual that doesn’t go away, you should see your dentist for a diagnosis. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
To treat your toothache, call us at the office of Philip R. Kozlow, DDS, today!