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6 Most Common Causes of a Toothache

6 Most Common Causes of a Toothache

Whether you’re dealing with a sharp pain when you bite down or a dull throbbing ache that won’t quit, a toothache is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, a toothache won’t stop hurting until the root cause of the pain has been addressed. 

Dr. Abraham Nobel and our team here at Nobel Dental know that toothaches develop when you least expect them, which is why we’re happy to offer emergency dentistry so you can get the relief you deserve when you need it. If you have a toothache, we encourage you to visit our office, conveniently located in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. 

In the meantime, learn more about the six most common causes of toothaches and how we might address them.

1. Cavity

Tooth decay is a common cause of tooth pain. Cavities, also known as tooth decay or dental caries, are permanently damaged areas of your enamel. These holes or pits can continue to expand if they’re left untreated, but a filling can stop the spread. When you receive a filling, we remove decayed tooth material and fill it with a special material, such as gold, composite, or amalgam, to prevent bacteria and debris from entering the cavity.

You might suspect your toothache is caused by a cavity if it hurts to bite down, if you see a dark spot or hole on your tooth, or if you notice a sudden increase in tooth sensitivity. Because some cavities can be hidden between teeth, we may recommend dental x-rays to expose any hidden cavities and ensure we’re treating all areas of decay, if applicable. 

2. Dental trauma

Dental trauma refers to any injury or accident that compromises the health of your teeth. This includes sports accidents as well as using your teeth as tools. Dental trauma can cause fractures, chips, and even knocked-out teeth. 

3. Infection

In addition to toothaches, infections may also cause swelling, fever, redness, tenderness, and increased warmth. Some infections cause little, pimple-like bumps to form on your gums. These are called abscesses and require prompt dental care to halt the spread of infection. 

Infections can form as a result of gum disease or severely decayed or damaged teeth whose pulp has been infiltrated by bacteria. Depending on your needs, we may drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics to help clear your infection.

4. Broken restoration

Damaged or missing restorations, including fillings and crowns, can cause pain. Once these protective restorations are damaged, your tooth pulp (which contains nerves) is exposed to the air, along with hot and cold temperatures. Exposing your tooth roots to the elements can cause sensitivity and discomfort. 

The only remedy for a toothache caused by a broken restoration is to replace the restoration, but you may find that a first aid kit for teeth contains temporary fillings or crowns to tide you over until you can visit us for an emergency dental appointment.

5. Gum disease

Despite the name, gum disease doesn’t just impact your gums. Advanced gum disease can also cause toothaches if the bacteria from your gums builds up along your tooth roots. Gum disease treatments vary depending on how severe your symptoms are, but scaling and root planing is a common gum disease treatment. You may also need antibiotics if you have an active infection.

6. Wisdom teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause swelling, bad breath, pain, and a host of other problems if they remain stuck below the surface of your gums. Even partially impacted wisdom teeth are problematic. These teeth have partially emerged and can trap bacteria and debris, increasing the risk of infection.

Getting relief from your toothache

While you wait for your appointment, you may find temporary relief through:

  • Over-the-counter pain relief medication
  • Gargling salt water
  • Applying topical anesthetics specifically designed for toothaches
  • Using the contents of a tooth first aid kit to protect areas exposed due to broken fillings

If your toothache is due to a broken tooth, stow the fragment in your cheek or in a glass of milk and try to make it to our West 6th Street office within 30 minutes of your dental injury. 

For emergency and routine dental care, call our Koreatown office. For non-emergent matters, feel free to use our online form to book an appointment.

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