A toothache can ruin your day, whether you’re an adult or a child. This isn’t a blind statement; it’s fact. A study by Ostrow School of Dentistry at USC found that kids with toothaches, overall, have lower grades. The researchers also determined that toothaches are responsible for students missing school an average of 2 days per year, which leads to parents missing work to care for their kids. Adults experience similar problems. According to Delta Dental, workers take off over 64 million hours per year because of dental pain and dentist visits.
So what causes toothaches? How can you and your children avoid them? Brighton family dentists, Drs. Villani and Kondrat, want you to understand how to prevent dental problems, so you and your kids can enjoy every day, toothache-free!
These 5 issues are common causes of toothaches and oral pain.
- Dental cavities
Cavities, dental caries, and tooth decay are all the same thing. In short, a cavity is a decayed portion of a tooth. When bacteria decay through the enamel of a tooth, into the underlying dentin, you can experience pain and will need a filling or crown. Left untreated, a cavity can extend to the innermost canal of a tooth and infect the nerve. When this happens, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth from extraction. To reduce your risk for cavities, brush twice a day, floss once a day, use fluoridated mouthwash, limit sugars and starches in your diet, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and attend six-month dental checkups and cleanings.
- Tooth fractures
A fracture is also called a crack. Fractures may result from dental trauma, ranging from a blow to the mouth to biting down on a hard substance. To reduce your risk for these types of fractures, wear a mouthguard during sports activities, and be careful of what you bite and chew. Crazing is another type of tooth fracture. With crazing, tooth enamel incurs tiny, spider-web-like cracks. Often, crazing is the result of grinding and clenching teeth, a condition known as bruxism. Brighton dentists, Drs. Villani and Kondrat, can identify crazing and tooth wear caused by bruxism, then determine whether you also suffer from TMJ disorder. A simple oral appliance can eliminate bruxism and treat TMD.
- Tooth sensitivity
Sensitive teeth may cause a dull, throbbing pain or a sharp pain when exposed to hot or cold temperatures. People with a healthy, thick layer of enamel on their teeth don’t usually suffer with tooth sensitivity. However, the thickness of enamel varies from person to person, and enamel can be eroded by acids in the mouth. Studies show, kids who drink sports and energy drinks are at significant risk for acid erosion. Tooth wear, such as that caused by bruxism, also causes enamel erosion. Older people commonly experience tooth sensitivity at the gum line, because our gum tissue naturally recedes as we age, and teeth roots are not covered with protective enamel. Gum disease can prompt gum recession, as well. To reduce tooth sensitivity, you can brush with over-the-counter sensitivity toothpaste. These products have a numbing agent that blocks nerve sensations in teeth. If you suffer with tooth sensitivity, tell Dr. Villani. He can determine the cause of your pain, then suggest appropriate treatment.
- Moving teeth
Whether a baby tooth or wisdom tooth is erupting, tooth movement can hurt. Just ask anyone who’s worn braces. In these scenarios, we expect discomfort and can treat it with over-the-counter oral numbing gel andor pain relievers. However, when a tooth is impacted and cannot erupt, complications arise. Impaction refers to a tooth being hindered from eruption by another structure, usually another tooth. The angle of the erupting tooth may cause pressure on both the erupting tooth and the tooth it projects toward. With X-rays, we can identify these types of concerns and recommend treatment.
- Gum disease
Most people don’t think much about gum disease, but the condition afflicts about 80% of Americans and is the main cause for adult tooth loss. Studies suggest that gum disease increases the risk for other health problems, ranging from heart disease to diabetes complications to low-weight births. Also called periodontal disease, gum disease usually begins when the bad bacteria in plaque irritate gum tissue and create infection. Pockets form as bacteria erode the connective tissues between the gums and teeth. The infection can spread along teeth roots and cause significant oral pain, as well as bad breath, swelling, tenderness, and redness of gum tissue, and loosening of teeth. While gum disease is chronic, it’s also treatable. At your six-month cleanings, our hygienist will evaluate you for gum disease and recommend treatment, if necessary. Between cleanings, if your gums are swollen and painful, call us for an appointment.
If you experience a toothache, contact our dental office, Brighton Family Dental Group, at (617) 562-5210. We proudly serve patients from Watertown, Cambridge, Brookline, Newton, Brighton, and the 02135 area.