It is said that nothing is as painful as toothache. You think very little about your teeth on a daily basis, until such time as a pain develops. Then, all of your attention is focused on the offending area and you can't wait to "fix" whatever is wrong. What are some of the likely causes of your problems at the moment, and what should you do?
Why Is Pain Caused?
The sensation that we know as pain is a direct result of the nerves in that area informing the brain of a problem. Pain is a way of prompting us to take action, to fix whatever is going on. As far as the teeth are concerned this can range from a minor issue to severe and debilitating pain, and this can be triggered by a number of different situations.
Hot or Cold Pain
For example, if you have a quick, shooting pain (that then goes away) when you introduce hot or cold food or drink, this doesn't generally mean that you need to rush to the dentist. It does, however, mean that you should schedule an appointment to have a checkup. It could be that part of the root surface is exposed, that your gums could be starting to recede, or you could have the beginning of decay in the tooth. In the meantime, try and avoid very hot or very cold stimulants and make sure that you brush the area gently.
Pain When Biting
If you get very severe pain when you bite down to chew food, this could indicate that you have cracked a tooth. It's also possible that the filling has worked loose, as some of them can over time. Once again, schedule a visit to the dentist for them to see what is going on. It is also possible that the "pulp" of the tooth, towards its base, has become infected. This will require a root canal, which will clean up the infection and help to restore the functionality.
Constant and Severe Pain
If the pain that you're experiencing is constant and severe, causing some swelling and sensitivity to any stimulus, then it could be that you have an infection. In some cases this can result in the formation of an abscess, which inflames the tissues and the bone itself. This requires an urgent visit to your dentist for treatment. Once again, a root canal could be the initial course of treatment and you may have to take some over-the-counter medications to remove the swelling.
Remember, pain is your body's way of prompting you to take action, so get on the phone with a dentist or periodontist.