My Blog

Posts for tag: tooth pain

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
October 31, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache   tooth pain  
WhyYourTeethMayHurt

Don't ignore tooth pain hoping it goes away. No matter how mild or fleeting it may be, it's a sign that something's wrong. Healthy teeth shouldn't cause discomfort because the parts containing the nerves — the interior pulp and the dentin around it — are shielded by dental enamel and gums.

Here are some common reasons that teeth ache:

  1. Gum Recession. Over time, gums can recede. Improper or excessive brushing can affect them, especially if you are genetically predisposed by having thin gums. When gums retreat, dentin can, or eventually will, be exposed. Besides its susceptibility to sensation, dentin is also more vulnerable to erosion and decay than enamel.
  2. Tooth Erosion/Decay. When acid-producing oral bacteria get the upper hand, they can eat through the tooth's protective enamel to the dentin. You may start feeling sensitivity as the decay gets deeper and closer to the pulp (nerves). Only removal of the decay and filling the cavity can stop the process.
  3. Old/Loose/Lost Filling. Fillings seal off areas of past decay. If they don't fit right or are dislodged altogether, air or food particles can slip inside and irritate exposed nerve endings. A crevice to hide in makes it prime real estate again for bacteria, too.
  4. Cracked Tooth. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can have a similar impact on teeth that a miner's pick has on rock. At first thin lines in your enamel can develop, then cracks develop that may expose the dentin, and finally the tooth might fracture, exposing the pulp. The earlier this process is caught, the better.
  5. Pulp Tissue Infection/Inflammation. This can be caused by deep decay or trauma and suggests your tooth may be in its death throes. Sometimes the pulp infection travels into the surrounding periodontal (peri – around; odont – tooth) tissues and causes an abscess to develop. This absolutely requires immediate attention.
  6. Residual Sensitivity from Dental Work. Removal of decay before placing a filling can cause tooth sensitivity. It can take 1-4 weeks or so to improve.
  7. Sinus Pain. Congestion can cause “referred” pain in the upper teeth. When the congestion subsides, the pain should, too.

As you can see, it's risky to discount tooth pain and “wait ‘til it goes away.” Our office can help you determine the origin of your pain and the best course of action to resolve it. When in doubt, it's always better to err on the side of caution!

If you would like more information about tooth pain and ways to prevent or treat it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!” and “Sensitive Teeth.”

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
July 15, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache   tooth pain  
ToothPainLeadstoJailBreak

When a 51-year-old Swedish man developed a throbbing toothache with facial swelling, he knew he needed to get to the dentist right away. There was only one problem: The unnamed individual was inside the Östragård minimum-security prison, serving a short sentence. But he didn’t let that stop him from getting dental treatment — he simply broke out of jail and headed straight for the nearest dental office.

“In the end, I just couldn’t stand it,” he explained to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

After the offending tooth was extracted, the offender himself went to the local police precinct and turned himself in. Taking his circumstances into account, the court added just 24 hours to his original sentence, and he was released soon thereafter. “Now I only have to pay the dentist bill,” he noted.

While we certainly don’t encourage jailbreaks, we might feel that this fellow made the right choice. It’s important to know when you need to get dental treatment right away, and when you can wait. Here are some very basic guidelines:

  • If you’re suffering a traumatic dental injury that is causing you severe pain, or you can’t control bleeding after applying pressure for a few minutes, go to the nearest emergency room right away (as you would for any serious injury).
  • If your tooth is knocked out or loosened, it should be treated in the dental office or emergency room within 6 hours. Place it back in its socket (in the correct orientation), if possible; if not, tuck it between the cheek and gum, or put it in a glass of cold milk. Hold the loose tooth gently in place. It’s often possible to successfully re-implant a tooth that has received quick first aid.
  • If a tooth is chipped or cracked less severely, try and save any missing pieces, and make an appointment to come in as soon as you can. Don’t forget to bring the pieces with you!
  • If you have acute or persistent tooth pain, come in to our office right away. There are many things that can cause tooth pain, including tooth decay (a bacterial infection), a loose filling, or tooth sensitivity. Minor sensitivity or occasional aches when chewing can be temporarily eased by rinsing with warm salt water and taking an over-the-counter pain reliever; more severe pain may indicate that you need root canal treatment to preserve a tooth in which the pulp has become seriously infected.

Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something’s wrong. When you experience mouth pain, it’s best for you to see us as soon as possible. Quick treatment just might save your tooth — and perhaps save you from a far steeper bill for tooth replacement. If you would like more information about dental emergencies, call our office for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don’t Wait!

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
April 17, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache   tooth pain  
ToothPainDuringPressureChangesCouldBeWarningofaBiggerProblem

People who fly or scuba dive know firsthand how changes in atmospheric pressure can affect the body: as minor as a popping in the ears, or as life-threatening as decompression sickness. Pressure changes can also cause pain and discomfort in your teeth and sinuses — in fact, severe pain could be a sign of a bigger problem.

Barotrauma (baro – “pressure;” trauma – “injury”), also known as a “squeeze,” occurs when the unequal air pressures outside and inside the body attempt to equalize. Many of the body's organs and structures are filled with air within rigid walls; the force created by equalization presses against these walls and associated nerves, which in turn causes the pain.

The sinus cavities and the middle ear spaces are especially sensitive. Each of these has small openings that help with pressure equalization. However, they can become swollen or blocked with mucous (as when you have a head cold), which slows equalization and contributes to the pain.

It's also possible to experience tooth pain during pressure change. This is because the back teeth in the upper jaw share the same nerve pathways as the upper jaw sinuses — pain originating from the sinuses can be felt in the teeth, and vice-versa. In fact, it's because of this shared pathway that pressure changes can amplify pain from a tooth with a deeper problem, such as a crack, fracture or a defect in dental work.

Besides problems with your teeth, the severe pain could also be related to temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), which is pain or discomfort in the small joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. There are a number of causes for this, but a common one for scuba divers is an ill-fitted regulator mouthpiece that they are biting down on too hard while diving. A custom-fitted mouthpiece could help alleviate the problem.

If you've been experiencing tooth pain during pressure change events, you should see us for an examination before you fly or dive again. There might be more to your pain — and correcting these underlying problems could save you extreme discomfort in the future.

If you would like more information on the effects of atmospheric pressure changes on teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pressure Changes Can Cause Tooth & Sinus Pain.”

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
March 24, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tooth pain   sensitive teeth  
GettingtotheRootofToothSensitivity

An icy cold beverage on a hot day or a steaming cup of cocoa on a frigid day are some of the simple pleasures in life. So why do they sometimes seem to turn against you and send sharp, sudden pain shooting through your teeth?

When pain affects your teeth, it's because the nerves within the very center portion, the “pulp,” are reacting to a stimulus such as temperature, pressure changes, or acidic or sugary substances. In healthy teeth, the pulp is protected from stimuli. Above the gum line, a layer of enamel encases and protects the visible portion of tooth (crown). Below, the gums (gingiva) and a thin layer of “cementum” protect the root portion. Neither of these contains nerves. However, directly under the enamel and cementum, surrounding the interior pulp, is the “dentin.” This layer contains nerve fibers that can relay sensations to the nerves in the pulp, which respond as they are designed to — with an unpleasant feeling that tells you something's wrong.

That feeling can range from a momentary pang, to prolonged dull throbbing, to downright excruciating distress. The nature of the pain depends on the type and degree of stimulus. The only way to be certain of what's causing the pain is with a professional dental examination. However, your symptoms can hint at some possible sources.

Fleeting sensitivity triggered by hot and cold foods generally does not indicate a serious problem. It may be due to any of the following:

  1. a small area of decay in a tooth,
  2. a loose filling,
  3. an exposed root surface resulting from gum recession (often due to improper or excessive brushing), or
  4. temporary pulp tissue irritation from recent dental work.

To help alleviate root sensitivity, make sure the tooth is free of dental bacterial plaque by brushing gently no more than twice a day. Fluoride-containing toothpaste made for sensitive teeth might help. Fluoride and additives such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride help relieve sensitivity. Try using the toothpaste like a balm, gently rubbing it into the tooth surface for about 10 minutes. If the sensitivity is related to recent dental work, it should resolve within a few days to a week or two, depending on the extent of the work you had done. A mild over-the-counter pain reliever may help in the meantime.

No matter what the reason, if the sensitivity persists or worsens, please come see us. Together we'll get to the root of the underlying problem and resolve it so you can get back to enjoying the foods and beverages you love, no matter what the temperature!

If you would like more information about tooth sensitivity and ways to prevent or treat it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sensitive Teeth” and “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 07, 2011
Category: Oral Health
Tags: toothache   tooth pain  

When it comes to tooth pain, it is important to identify two things: what is causing your pain and what can be done about it. In some instances you can handle it yourself at home; however, for others, you should contact us so that we can diagnose and treat the problem. See how much you really know about tooth pain by taking our true/false test.

  1. It is perfectly normal to experience tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods for a few days after dental treatment.
    True or False
  2. If you experience sharp pain when biting down on foods, you should hold off on contacting us to see if the pain gets better on it own.
    True or False
  3. Tooth pain is caused by a reaction of nerves inside the tooth's enamel with the severity of the pain dependant upon the type and degree of the stimulus.
    True or False
  4. Generally speaking, pain is a protective response that ranges from minor to severe as a way of informing the body that something is wrong.
    True or False
  5. If a tooth's root surface is sensitive, you should use a firm toothbrush to ensure that you are keeping the area clean by thoroughly removing dental bacterial plaque.
    True or False
  6. Lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods and liquids probably means that the pulp within your tooth is probably damaged or inflamed as a result of deep tooth decay or injury from a physical trauma.
    True or False
  7. Regarding tooth sensitivity, you should only contact us if the pain persists for several months because this is not likely to be anything serious.
    True or False
  8. If a tooth's pulp becomes damaged or dies, you will need a root canal.
    True or False
  9. With tooth pain, knowing how long to wait before you contact us can save physical, financial and emotional stress.
    True or False
  10. People often confuse tooth and sinus pain because they both can feel the same — a dull ache with pressure in the upper teeth and sinus area on one or both sides of the face.
    True or False

Answers: 1) True. 2) False. You should contact us asap for an examination before the pain worsens. 3) False. The nerves are located in the tooth's pulp chamber. 4) True. 5) False. Use a soft bristled toothbrush not a firm one. 6) True. 7) False. While tooth sensitivity generally does not signal a serious issue, if it persist for days or worsens, contact us. 8) True. 9) False. Early interception is best. 10) True.

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don't Wait!” Or contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions.