20118 N 67th Ave Ste 308

Glendale, AZ 85308

Tooth Pain: When You Should Call Your Dentist

A man holds the side of his face due to tooth pain and a dental emergency.

Experiencing tooth pain can be uncomfortable and sometimes alarming. That’s why knowing when it’s necessary to call your dentist is essential. Welcome to the first blog post in our series, aimed at empowering you with the knowledge to take control of your oral health. We are Smile Science Dental Spa, a renowned dental practice located in the heart of Glendale, Arizona. Dr. Richard Dawson and Dr. John Turke are the leading practitioners at our spa, providing expert guidance and care for all your dental needs.

Understanding Tooth Pain

A woman holds the side of her face and grimaces due to tooth pain.

Tooth pain, a common symptom we all experience at some point, can be quite an ordeal. But what causes it? Tooth pain often arises from various issues, including cavities, gum disease, a cracked tooth, an exposed tooth root, and even sinus infections. Sometimes, it could also be due to more severe problems like an abscessed tooth.

Tooth pain isn’t a “one size fits all” phenomenon. It varies in intensity and frequency, making it tricky to pinpoint its seriousness at times. For some, it could be a mild, dull ache that comes and goes, easily ignored in the hustle and bustle of daily life. For others, it might be a sharp, persistent pain that disrupts sleep and normal activities.

Ignoring tooth pain, however, can lead to complications. What might start as a minor ache could escalate into a severe problem if left unchecked. Remember, tooth pain is your body’s way of signaling that something is amiss. It’s important to heed these signals and consult a professional when necessary, to prevent minor issues from becoming major dental emergencies. In the next sections, we will discuss tooth sensitivity, how it differs from tooth pain, and when to seek professional help.

Tooth Pain vs. Sensitivity

Young woman embarrassed about her bad breath, covering her mouth with both hands.

Tooth pain and tooth sensitivity, while both involving discomfort, are not the same thing. Tooth pain is often a sharp, intense discomfort that can arise from various issues like cavities or gum disease. It can be consistent or throbbing, and often becomes worse with pressure or extreme temperatures.

On the other hand, tooth sensitivity, also known as dentin hypersensitivity, usually manifests as a sudden, sharp flash of pain when your teeth come into contact with hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages. It can also occur during brushing or flossing. This pain is typically not as intense as tooth pain, but can be quite uncomfortable.

However, tooth sensitivity can sometimes be a sign of a more serious issue. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity that lasts for an extended period, it might indicate underlying problems such as a cracked tooth, tooth decay, worn tooth enamel, worn fillings, or exposed tooth roots. Hence, persistent or severe sensitivity should not be ignored.

Understanding Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel protecting our teeth gets thinner, or when gum recession exposes the underlying surface. The roots of our teeth are covered in a material called cementum, and beneath the tooth enamel and cementum is dentin. When dentin loses its protective covering, hot or cold temperatures can stimulate the cells inside the tooth, causing sensitivity.

For managing mild tooth sensitivity at home, a good oral hygiene routine is key. Brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush, flossing daily, and using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help. Also, avoid acidic foods and drinks that can wear down tooth enamel.

Nevertheless, if your sensitivity is severe or persists for several weeks, it’s time to seek professional help. At Smile Science Dental Spa, we can help determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity and provide the best possible solution for your specific needs. Whether it’s applying a desensitizing agent to your teeth, a filling, or a more complex procedure, Dr. Dawson and Dr. Turke are here to guide you towards a comfortable, pain-free smile.

The Role of a Dentist in Managing Tooth Pain and Sensitivity

A dentist holding a treatment plan while explaining treatment to an elderly patient.

Regular dental check-ups play a crucial role in maintaining oral health and detecting potential issues early. They provide an opportunity for your dentist to examine your teeth and gums for signs of disease or decay. Regular visits to the dentist can help identify problems at an early stage when they are more manageable, reducing the risk of more complex and expensive procedures in the future.

At Smile Science Dental Spa, Dr. Dawson and Dr. Turke are committed to helping you manage tooth pain and sensitivity. With years of experience and a keen eye for detail, they can diagnose the underlying causes of your discomfort and provide targeted, effective treatments. They may suggest options like desensitizing treatments, fluoride gels, bonding agents, dental sealants, fillings, crowns, or root canals, depending on the severity and cause of your pain or sensitivity.

Common Signs Your Tooth Pain Needs Immediate Attention

A man standing in front of a pink background holds the side of his face due to tooth pain.

Knowing the signs of serious tooth pain can help you take timely action. Here are some signs that your tooth pain needs immediate attention:

  1. Severe Pain: If the pain is intense and doesn’t subside after a few hours or with over-the-counter pain relievers, it’s time to call your dentist.
  2. Prolonged Sensitivity: Sensitivity to hot or cold that lingers after the temperature stimulus is removed could indicate a deeper issue.
  3. Swelling in Your Mouth: This could be a sign of an infection that needs urgent attention.
  4. Pain When Biting Down: This could suggest decay or a cracked tooth.
  5. Bleeding or Pus: These could signal gum disease or infection.
  6. Fever and General Malaise: These are signs of an abscess, a serious condition that can spread infection to other parts of the body.

For instance, one of our patients, Sarah, ignored a dull ache for weeks until she developed swelling and severe pain. She was diagnosed with an abscess, requiring immediate treatment. Had she sought help when the pain first appeared, she could have avoided the abscess and the accompanying distress.

So, if you experience any of these signs, don’t delay in reaching out to us at Smile Science Dental Spa. Remember, early intervention is key to preventing minor issues from escalating into major problems.

Citations and Further Reading

  1. Managing tooth pain in general practice
  2. Dental Emergencies
  3. Understanding and managing dental and orofacial pain in general practice
  4. Management of dental pain in primary care


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