Most people throughout the country have experienced the pain of a toothache at one time or other in their lives. However, just because a toothache is a fairly common occurrence, does not mean that it isn’t all that big a deal, especially if you’re the person who’s experiencing it. What causes a toothache is one of the most commonly asked dental health questions patients pose to their dentists, and some of the answers may surprise you. Of course, everybody knows that a toothache can be caused by all manner of dental health issues, from cavities and other types and degrees of tooth decay, to chips and cracks in the teeth, to exposed nerve roots. But did you know that the cause of a toothache could be an ear infection or that chronic sinus problem you’ve been enduring? Following are answers to questions about some of the most common causes of toothaches, as well as tips on preventing them.
Tooth decay might sound like a horrible thing that most of us will never have to worry about, but the fact is that a cavity is just a mild form of it. The reason that a cavity or any other degree of tooth decay can lead to a toothache is pretty simple. Cavities are holes in the teeth that burrow through several layers of teeth, often exposing nerves. A toothache can occur from bacteria that fills up the hole made by the decay.
Like cavities, cracks in teeth can also cause bacteria to build up within teeth and cause eventual toothaches. Additionally, when enamel becomes loose, pressure builds up on nerves during biting or even just chewing. Shooting pains will be especially prevalent when biting down on hard or chewy objects.
Nerves in teeth become exposed when teeth are chipped, broken, or even due to decay. Naturally, when those live nerves underneath are exposed due to these conditions, pain will ensue, especially when they come into contact with food particles or beverages. Even air or saliva can cause pain in these situations.
Yes, it’s true. An ear infection can most definitely cause a toothache. Ear infections cause pain, and that pain can easily spread to the teeth. And, though the pain of an ear infection doesn’t seem like something to celebrate, its presence actually can be a good thing. Luckily, in most cases, long before the pain of an ear infection has spread to the teeth, most folks see a healthcare professional about their ears.
If you’re one of the many sufferers of chronic sinus problems, you know that clogged sinuses don’t just affect your breathing. They can also cause toothaches. The reason for this is that the sinuses are close in proximity to the roots of teeth. This can cause pressure to build up and eventually cause pain in a tooth. In fact, many patients who suffer from chronic sinus problems might never be properly diagnosed, if not for heading to a dentist about a toothache they’ve been experiencing.
The best news about toothaches is that they can largely be prevented. Except in cases of injury or medical conditions such as chronic sinus problems, most toothaches are quite avoidable. All it takes is maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. The simplest way to preventing toothaches is with a regular dental health routine that includes no less than twice-daily brushing to prevent tooth decay of all forms, once-daily flossing to pull food particles from between teeth, and twice-yearly visits to your family dentist for a professional cleaning.
If you’re currently experiencing the pain of a toothache, you probably don’t care much about how it started; you just want the pain to stop. However, your dentist does want to know how it started. And, when the pain is gone, you’ll want to know, too. After all, how else will you know how to prevent it from occurring in the future? If you have further questions of the cause of a toothache or other oral health questions, be sure to ask your dentist at your next bi-annual checkup, since only your dentist can find the true source of your toothache.