Almost everyone has encountered tooth pain at some time or another. Maybe you took a nasty fall, bit into a frozen treat, “burned” your teeth on some hot coffee, or just woke up with an inexplicable toothache. While it can be annoying and even frightening, tooth pain doesn’t necessarily mean you have a serious problem, and it certainly is not always a sign that you’ll need a root canal or tooth extraction.
In many cases, mild tooth pain that occurs infrequently is no cause for concern at all, but you should probably mention it to your dentist at your next appointment. However, there are times that tooth pain warrants immediate attention, mainly based upon the severity and cause of the pain.
Trauma If you slip on a patch of ice or your friendly basketball games becomes a bit rough, you may end up with tooth pain. First, check for bleeding. If blood is coming from around your tooth and/or if your tooth is loose, contact your dentist. However, check to make sure the blood isn’t from a cut lip or gum first.
Otherwise, mild tooth pain from trauma can usually be addressed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Contact your dentist if the pain hasn’t resolved within 48 hours. Also, if your tooth has been knocked out of socket, try to place it back in the socket while avoiding handling it by the root. Failing that, place it in a glass of water or milk and, of course, call your dentist right away.
Sensitivity to Hot and Cold It’s not uncommon to experience a little tooth pain with very hot or cold foods and drinks. However, if the pain is severe or persistent, you need to let your dentist know. This may be a symptom of a deeper problem, like cavities or enamel loss. Also, your dentist will be able to recommend an appropriate toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
Spontaneous Tooth Pain We’re all subject to random aches and pains, and the teeth are no exception. It is certainly possible to have spontaneous tooth pain for no apparent reason. If this occurs, you should address it based on severity and how long it lasts. Minor episodes that disappear after a day or two are usually no cause for concern, as long as they don’t become frequent. However, if your pain is severe or lasts greater than 48 hours, it’s time to let your dentist know.
Remember, your dentist is your best source of information and assistance regarding tooth pain. If tooth pain or sensitivity is causing you problems and frustrations, consult with your dental office so they can get to the root of the issue.