Toothaches are no fun, but the type of pain you’re feeling can give you insight into what might be going on.

Nothing can put a damper on your day like a toothache. Toothaches are one of the most common dental issues and are responsible for millions of ER visits every year. The good news is that most tooth pain is caused by very treatable conditions that can be fixed with the help of a dentist.

If you’re currently experiencing tooth pain and you’re not sure what to do, we’re here to help. We’re going to go over 5 types of tooth pain by their level of severity, what your pain might be telling you, what to do to get your pain under control, and when to call Dr. Bruce Sexton.

Level 1: Tooth Sensitivity

How It Feels

Tooth sensitivity is a very common type of tooth pain that may come up suddenly or be a chronic issue experienced by individuals. Tooth sensitivity pain usually occurs when your teeth are exposed to very cold or very hot foods or drinks. The pain is often very sudden and happens as soon as the food or beverage touches the surface of your teeth. The pain may go away after a few moments or last for hours, with the latter pointing to a very serious problem.

What It Means

Tooth sensitivity is often linked to weakened tooth enamel or receding gumlines. If you visit your dentist regularly and begin to experience tooth sensitivity, it may be due to enamel wear; however, severe tooth sensitivity could be due to serious tooth decay or a cracked tooth that has led to tooth root exposure.

What to Do

For minor tooth sensitivity, switching your toothpaste to one designed for sensitive teeth can be very helpful. Your dentist can help guide you toward the best option. Avoiding hot and cold foods or beverages is also a good idea to keep your pain away. Additionally, acidic foods can worsen sensitivity pain by exacerbating enamel wear.

Level 2: A Dull Ache

How It Feels

This type of pain is a classic toothache feeling. The pain can be mild to moderate but feel like a dull ache, either in a single tooth, multiple teeth, or down into your jaw area. These types of toothaches often come and go, but because they are linked to a more serious tooth problem, it won’t go away until you get examined by your dentist.

What It Means

A dull ache can mean something fairly simple, like having a piece of food stuck in your tooth, or it can mean you have tooth decay present. If the dull ache is located in the back of your mouth, it may be due to your wisdom teeth coming in, or your pain may be a symptom of nighttime bruxism. A dull ache coupled with a feeling of pressure in your tooth when biting down could also point to an abscess forming.

What to Do

Thoroughly floss and brush your teeth first to dislodge any stuck food. If your pain persists or you notice a pattern in your aches, such as waking up with soreness every morning, it’s time to call your dentist for help.

Level 3: Sharp Tooth Pain

How It Feels

A sharp pain can feel very intense and usually occurs when your problem tooth touches another tooth or a food item when biting down. This type of pain can often be accompanied by an aching or throbbing sensation, but the difference is the initial, very sharp pain that triggers the toothache. In some cases, you may not even feel chronic pain but, rather, experience it only when you happen to bite down the “wrong way.”

What It Means

A sharp pain can usually be pinpointed to a single tooth and normally means some sort of damage has occurred to it; you may feel a chipped or broken part on your tooth when you run your tongue over it. In some cases, your tooth may even be cracked, but you can’t see the fracture by simply looking in the mirror. A sharp pain in a tooth with a filling or crown can also point to an underlying issue with your restoration.

What to Do

This type of pain always requires a dental visit, even if the sharp pain doesn’t seem to last. A damaged tooth can quickly wear away, going from what could have been a simple filling to what may eventually require a dental crown. Worse yet, a cracked tooth can completely break with less pressure than you might think.

Level 4: Throbbing Tooth Pain

How It Feels

A throbbing toothache is very painful and frustrating to deal with. This type of pain can come on suddenly or gradually worsen from a sharp pain to throbbing pain. The throbbing sensation may seem limited to one or more teeth, or it may spread to your jaw or even the side of your face. You may also notice your gums look swollen and red.

What It Means

Severe, throbbing tooth pain is a serious cause for concern. It may be caused by a broken tooth or untreated advanced gum disease (periodontitis) that has exposed your tooth’s roots or nerves. Untreated tooth decay can also wear down your enamel so badly that it exposes the pulp layer within your tooth.

What to Do

While you can take an OTC medication and use hot or cold compresses to ease the pain, this type of toothache should never be ignored. It’s important to immediately call your dentist for help. Dr. Sexton may even be able to see you the same day during business hours for emergencies.

Level 5: Extreme or Debilitating Tooth Pain

How It Feels

Without immediate action, a throbbing toothache can quickly turn into extreme, debilitating tooth pain. This Level 5 toothache can leave you feeling dizzy, sick, and unable to do much besides focus on how painful your tooth feels. You may even feel like you need to visit an ER for help.

What It Means

Extreme or debilitating pain can be caused by a number of different problems, from trauma to the tooth because of an accident to a tooth shattering and exposing the pulp layer and nerves. If you also experience painful pressure or notice facial swelling, chances are high that you have also developed an abscess. Oral infections like an abscess are an extremely serious condition.

What to Do

If your dentist’s office is open, call your dentist immediately. However, if it’s outside of your dentist’s business hours, your pain is uncontrollable, and you have a fever, swelling, and other symptoms of an infection, a trip to the ER is a good idea.

Get rid of your tooth pain for good by booking a visit with Dr. Bruce Sexton.

In the majority of cases, if you’re experiencing tooth pain, it’s a good idea to get examined by your dentist.

Although at-home toothache remedies can help you get your pain under control and may even seem to cure your toothache completely, problems like untreated tooth decay don’t go away on their own. To ensure your oral health doesn’t get worse, we recommend using at-home remedies only as a way to ease your discomfort until your dentist appointment.

If you’re currently experiencing a toothache, it’s best to call our office directly to schedule an appointment.

 

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