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When to See a Dentist About a Toothache

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Everyone gets a toothache now and then, and sometimes they indicate you need a dentist's appointment. Some toothaches can be potentially serious, but many are minor and go away on their own. However, a bothersome and persistent toothache may indicate you have a problem. Keep reading to learn more about common toothache causes and when you should see a dentist.

Common Toothache Causes

A toothache without a cause is rare, but not all causes mean the same thing. The more serious toothaches develop when the tooth's pulp becomes irritated or damaged. Examples of these types of causes include:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Root infections
  • Abscesses
  • Fracture
  • Trauma
  • Loose fillings

People who experience all of the above problems will likely have noticeable pain that lasts for a long period. Pain can range from sharp and severe pain to dull and thudding pain.

Many toothaches are related to other issues and do not necessarily mean you have a damaged tooth or jaw. Some may be unrelated to your teeth at all. These causes include:

  • Sinuses infections
  • Tooth eruption (such as when your wisdom teeth come through)
  • Food stuck between your teeth
  • Receding gums with an exposed root
  • Tooth grinding
  • Unusual bite (malocclusion)

In these cases, the pain will likely be situational and often goes away within a short time. For example, receding gums may increase your sensitivity to heat, cold, and sugar. The pain may go away when you aren't eating those foods. Sinus pain may also come and go.

While some pain and swelling are normal for an erupting wisdom tooth, it shouldn't last long. If your wisdom tooth pain is sharp and long-lasting, it could indicate an impacted tooth.

Signs You Need to See a Dentist

If you haven't seen a dentist in a long time, you should see one any time you have tooth pain. You should also see one if you have a sudden, sharp pain that could indicate a deep crack or break in your tooth. With duller pains, you may benefit from seeing a dentist if the pain lasts more than a day or two. You may have an undiagnosed dental problem without realising it.

One of the best ways to prevent recurrent and serious dental problems is to see your dentist regularly. Often, your dentist will notice a problem long before a toothache starts. They can also identify the cause and determine if you need treatment soon or could wait. Contact a dentist for an appointment if you have a toothache or need an examination.