Why Toothaches Are Often Emergencies

Although small, your teeth can often generate enough discomfort when damaged or infected to warrant an emergency visit to your dentist’s office. To make matters worse, tooth sensitivity and pain can indicate a number of different issues. As a symptom, toothaches can seem similar regardless of their cause, but curing them depends on diagnosing their origins first. Because those origins typically involve a threat to your healthy tooth structure, toothaches are often considered emergencies and should be evaluated and treated by your dentist as soon as possible.

The Dangers of Aching Teeth

Tooth Damage (cracks, fractures, etc.)

One of the more immediately obvious reasons behind tooth pain is structural damage. Undue pressure, accidental trauma, and more can damage teeth, which unfortunately do not repair themselves like bone and other body tissues. If the crack or fracture extends deep enough to expose your tooth’s pulp, nerves, and blood vessels, then your tooth may also be susceptible to internal tooth decay.

Tooth Decay (aka, cavities)

Tooth decay slowly erodes your tooth’s structure, beginning with a process called enamel erosion. Plaque, the sticky substance that coats your teeth, contains bacteria that convert sugar and carbs into acid. The acid saps your teeth of essential minerals, weakening your tooth enamel in the process. Once enamel is too weak to repel bacteria, the germs are free to attack the main structure, called dentin, leading to a cavity (or hole in your tooth) as decay progresses. Softer then enamel, dentin contains tubules that allow sensory information to reach your tooth’s pulp. The further tooth decay progresses towards the pulp, the worse your toothache will become.

Gingivitis (the precursor to gum disease)

Dental plaque can lead to more than tooth decay. The bacteria also release toxins that irritate your gums, cause inflammation, and lead to gingivitis—the first stage of gum disease. Early signs of gum disease include gum recession, or the separation of your gums from your teeth. One of the main purposes of your gum tissue is to seal and protect your teeth’s roots, which are not protected by enamel. When gums recede, they expose these roots to bacteria, food debris, and other irritants that can cause severe tooth discomfort.

If You Have a Toothache, Schedule an Emergency Visit

Sensitive and aching teeth are no laughing matter, and in many cases, they could indicate an emergency. If your tooth or teeth hurt, then schedule an appointment as soon as possible by calling Allen & Neumann Family Dentistry in Pella, IA, today at (641) 628-1121.