Diagnosing a toothache

Submitted by Aventura Dentists on February 24, 2012

One of the most common tooth issues, toothaches, have a wide variety of causes and treatments. Gum, jaw, and tooth pain are sometimes confused with each other, and without the help of a professional dentist they can be almost impossible to diagnose. However, in many cases where teeth are hurting or sensitive to liquids it may be a sign of one of the following problems:

  • Cavities and tooth decay: Cavities–caused by bacteria breaking down sugars and making acid that penetrates enamel–will eventually reach past the enamel, causing either direct sensitivity of the nerve, or microcavities in the teeth that are sensitive to heat, cold, and different types of pressure.
  • New teeth coming in: When adult teeth or wisdom teeth are erupting through the gums, the inflammation that comes along with it can make teeth sore.
  • Fractured tooth: Accidentally biting anything harder than the tooth can create an external or internal fracture or crack in a tooth. In some cases a broken tooth is extremely painful, other times it may not cause any pain at all. Depending on how the tooth is damaged, it will be more or less sensitive.
  • Losing a filling: Fillings can fall out or be knocked out, resulting in a previously filled and cleaned cavity being opened. Because this part of the tooth may be hard to clean, it generally will degrade faster than the rest of teeth due to buildup of food or acids.
  • Infection of the gums: If there’s inflammation, swelling, or other signs of infection, pain in the gums can sometimes be felt as pain in the tooth. It is important to treat infections soon because they can quickly damage the mouth or spread beyond it.

Brushing regularly (with a fluoride-containing paste), flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash are generally good ways to avoid degradation of the teeth and avoid tooth damage. Healthy gums are also crucial to maintaining proper overall oral health, and preventing toothaches. There are many other causes of a toothache, and many will vary in terms of sensitivity to temperature, sensitivity to sweets, and pain while applying pressure.

If you have a toothache that lasts longer than a few days, or is painful, call the dental office of Dr. Barry S. Segal and Dr. Rosenstein at 305-933-9911.

Dr. Steven Rosenstein and Dr. Barry Segal‎
3575 Northeast 207th Street
Aventura, FL 33180
(305) 933-9911