What To Do When You Have a Toothache

What is your tooth pain telling you? You might be surprised at the true source of the pain you’re feeling in your mouth. Learn what you should do about a toothache and how your dentist can help relieve tooth pain and restore your dental health.

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Symptoms to watch out for

A toothache can mean different things to different people. At First Impressions, we’ve had patients describe toothaches as feeling like:

  • A sudden and sharp pain
  • Dull throbbing pain
  • Sensitivity to extreme temperatures
  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Discomfort or bleeding when brushing/flossing
  • Pain that is either constant or that comes and goes

Be on the lookout for any of these symptoms or any changes in how your teeth feel. A sudden toothache accompanied by a tooth that suddenly feels sharp or rough might be a sign of a broken tooth!

Your toothache might not be a toothache at all

A toothache doesn’t always mean a cavity. A variety of other dental health problems might be at the root of your discomfort, including:

  • Gum disease – Pain in the mouth, particularly around the gum line is a common symptom of gum disease that many people mistake for a cavity
  • Gum recession – When gums recede, they can expose the sensitive portion of the tooth’s root
  • Wisdom teeth – Most common in teens and young adults, tooth pain in the back of the mouth might be a sign that wisdom teeth are coming in
  • Misaligned teeth – General mouth or tooth pain may be caused by teeth that are misaligned or crooked, causing crowding in your mouth
  • TMJ disorder – Headaches or tooth pain centered around the jaw joint might be caused by TMJ disorder, a surprisingly common affliction
  • Sensitive teeth – Some people just have teeth that are more sensitive than others
  • Bruxism – If your teeth and mouth are sore when you wake up in the morning, a common culprit is tooth grinding, also known as bruxism

Better safe than sorry

Very rarely will tooth pain resolve itself — especially if it’s caused by a cavity. The pain will only get worse and might become severe at the most inopportune time, like right before a big business meeting or the day before your next vacation!

If you’ve got a toothache, let your dentist know. Your dentist can help you understand what might be causing your tooth pain and nip it in the bud. When we catch decay and cavities early, there are more options for treatment. For example, a small cavity may be easily fixed with a small filling. But left untreated it might eventually need a root canal.

Chipped or cracked tooth?

Biting on hard bits of food, car accidents, and slips and falls often result in a painfully chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. If this happens to you, contact your dentist right away. With quick treatment, you have the best possible chance to save your tooth, even if it’s severely fractured. 

Prompt treatment with a crown, filling, or other restoration can stop your tooth pain. It can also help you restore the appearance and function of your broken tooth.

When left untreated, chipped or broken teeth may allow bacteria to penetrate deep into the tooth, leading to a painful toothache and possibly necessitating a root canal or even a tooth extraction.

Broken crown or lost filling?

Crowns and fillings are not permanent restorations. Eventually, they will need to be replaced. In some cases, an older crown or filling may feel loose or might even fall out completely. It’s very important to get this fixed quickly. Crowns and fillings protect your teeth from further wear and decay. Crowns and fillings also provide strength and shape for your tooth. When one falls out, the remaining tooth is at a much higher risk of breaking or fracturing.

If you notice that a crown or filling is missing, we can help. Here at First Impressions, we will see you right away and make a new restoration as quickly as possible. At our Yukon office, we can make a brand new crown in about an hour using our high-tech CEREC machine!

Mild tooth pain? Try this first

If you’re just experiencing a little mild discomfort in your mouth, there are a few things you can try at home before calling your dentist:

1. Try a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth like Sensodyne

2. Gently rinse your mouth with warm (not hot) saltwater — about a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water — before bed

3. Make sure to use a soft toothbrush to avoid irritating your teeth and gums

If your mouth doesn’t start to feel better in a few days, contact your dentist to get it checked out.

Infections and abscesses

There are a few situations where prompt medical treatment is absolutely essential. Infections and abscessed teeth are serious. Be on the lookout for tooth pain accompanied by:

  • Fever
  • Redness or swelling
  • Skin that’s warm to the touch
  • Pus or leaking fluids

Call your dentist right away for an emergency dental appointment.

Have questions about what you’re feeling in your mouth?

Schedule your appointment at First Impressions today. We have convenient office locations in Yukon and Oklahoma City and can help diagnose the cause of your tooth pain and fix it fast. 

Come see us, you’ll be glad you did!

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