If you’re reading this, it’s highly likely you have a toothache. Your toothache may be mild or severe, yet any toothache is your early warning sign that all is not right with your teeth. Pain is often the barometer we use to take toothache action, but left untreated, toothaches can lead to more complex dental issues and can affect your overall health.
According to the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, over 20% of adults aged 25–44 reported that they had experienced toothache in the previous 12 months. And, over 23% of Australians aged 45–64, avoided eating certain food due to teeth problems.
5 Common Toothache Symptoms
Use this guide to know when to take action on your current toothache:
1. Sharp, intense and throbbing pain
A rapidly worsening toothache with red or swollen gums is a sign of a tooth infection or dental abscess. This is not just a serious dental issue but a serious health issue. A dental abscess is a swollen pus pocket either inside or surrounding the tooth. In some cases, this abscess may burst, relieving pain and leaving a bad taste in your mouth. In other cases, it may continue to swell or become infected causing a very sharp, unbearable pain that spreads to your jaw, ear and neck.
Action: Seek urgent dental or medical care to relieve pain reduce the spread of infection.
2. Sudden and sporadic tooth sensitivity
If you drink something cold or hot and have a jolt of pain in your teeth, this could be a sign of enamel loss or gum recession. It could also be an early sign of a cavity, mildly cracked tooth or again, a dental abscess. And, if the pain is coming from a tooth with a filling, it may mean the filling has become loose or fallen out.
Action: If this pain is persistent or if you haven’t seen a dentist in the past six months, it is wise to check what is the cause of the pain and get treatment.
3. Consistent dull and throbbing pain
A mild yet persistent toothache may not be severe enough for you to take immediate action, however this could be a sign of nerve damage. Nerve damage can come from grinding teeth or placing excessive pressure on nerves within the root of the tooth. Tooth decay may be another reason for dull throbbing pain.
Action: If a dull throbbing persists for more than 1-2 days it’s important to get it checked out by a dentist.
4. Avoiding foods due to teeth pain
If you avoid eating certain types of foods due to pain in your teeth it can be a sign of a cavity. Eating hard foods like nuts or food that require a lot of chewing such as steak can put pressure on your teeth to perform. Rather than avoid these foods, it is better to have the issue seen to so you can maintain a well-balanced diet.
Action: If you avoid eating anything due to tooth pain, get a check-up to pin-point the issue and get treatment and enable you to eat properly and maintain nutrition.
5. Pain at the back of the jaw
Two likely causes of pain towards the back of the jaw are wisdom teeth or what’s known as TemporoMandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction.
- Wisdom teeth are a common source of temporary pain. It is important to have a dentist confirm if the wisdom teeth are impacted or not. If they are considered impacted it means they will lead to other dental issues such as infection or push other teeth out of alignment.
- TMJ is due to a misalignment of the joint in your jaw. Stress and excessive teeth grinding can force the jaw joint out of alignment leading to jaw, ear and neck pain. A number of dental treatments can rectify TMJ.
Action: Pain in the back of the jaw, ear or neck, if persistent for more than 1-2 days should be seen by a dentist, particularly one which has experience in TMJ.
A toothache may be common. But this is your body telling you there is something not quite right with your teeth. As with most health issues, getting toothaches treated early helps to avoid more complex and costly complications later. A regular dental check-up will also mean you have a greater chance of avoiding toothaches altogether, rather than using a toothache as your trigger to call your dentist.
Dr Finkelstein Dentist is well equipped to treat your toothache symptoms. We leave certain hours free each day to treat dental emergencies including toothaches. We also have flexible hours and can conduct early or later appointments on request to fit in with your schedule. We perform a comprehensive dental exam to ensure you are on top of your oral hygiene and have a higher chance of avoiding a toothache altogether in the future.