Having a toothache is no fun and sometimes diagnosing the problem can be tricky. The top reasons for toothaches are cavities and gum disease but there are other causes for oral pain. An examination, including x-rays, is needed to diagnose the cause of the pain and decide the best course of treatment to relieve the discomfort.
Most of the time the examination will show obvious decay or an abscess that is the cause of the pain. On some occasions the cause may not be obvious, sometimes the tooth that the patient is complaining about is healthy and it is an adjacent tooth causing the pain!
Other things we look at are recent dental restorations. Perhaps the reason for the pain is a crown or a filling that is not in proper alignment with the other teeth – the forces exerted by chewing can irritate the nerves and cause a toothache type pain. In some cases the pain is due to an improper bite or grinding of the teeth which causes pain and damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In these cases it is important to restore the bite to the perfect position using the principles of neuromuscular dentistry.
In extremely rare cases toothache pain may not be caused by a problem with the teeth, gums or jaw but instead could be a symptom of heart disease (angina or heart attack), ear infection or even a sinus problem. If we are unable to discover a dental cause for the discomfort you may be referred to your physician to make sure no underlying medical condition could be causing the pain.
The good news is that most toothaches are caused by simple cavities and can easily be remedied by removing the decay and placing an appropriate restoration such as a tooth colored filling or crown. To avoid experiencing a toothache remember to schedule regular visits with your dentist and have all needed dental care completed as soon as possible — waiting until later to have that crown or filling replaced can lead to needing more expensive treatment such as root canal therapy or tooth loss.
Please contact Dr. Bernard L. Greenbaum in Bethesda, MD today at 301-530-3600 to schedule your appointment. Remember toothaches never happen during regular office hours so please don’t hesitate to call if you have an emergency.