From Whispers to Screams—The Language of Toothaches

stethoscope and toothYour body speaks to you. Stub your toe on a table leg or bedpost, and your nerves will scream at you to stop walking. Eat too much, or too quickly, and your stomach will warn you to be more careful next time. Likewise, your teeth may have something interesting to tell you from time to time, although you may have to listen closely at first. Although you can walk off the pain of a stubbed toe and outlast the discomfort of an upset stomach, ignoring your teeth’s messages won’t make them go away. In fact, they’ll only grow louder, shouting for help until you treat them, or until they’re lost forever.

Do You Hear Something?

When we say “toothache,” many people imagine debilitating dental pain, but tooth sensitivity typically begins much milder and only grows worse when ignored. Healthy teeth are completely covered by a super-resilient layer of mineral crystals called enamel, which protects the sensitive dentin that forms the bulk of your. When enamel wears away, either from early tooth decay, excessive abrasion, or attrition (friction from teeth grinding), the exposed dentin becomes agitated by hot and cold temperatures, sugary or acidic foods and drinks, and pressure. Mild toothaches can warn you that your tooth enamel is weak, and that there’s little time left to save it before a cavity develops.

Clear and Present Danger

When dentin is infected with decay, cavities (holes) form that increase your tooth’s sensitivity to irritation until there’s no longer any doubt that your tooth has something to say. Severe cavities can directly infect the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels, which the dentin is supposed to protect, and can cause gnawing, persistent, increasingly-worse toothaches even without exposure to hot and cold food and drinks.

Attention-Stealing Shouts

As humans, we can grit our teeth and struggle through most things. Some people even consider their pain tolerance a point of pride. When your tooth makes you feel like you’re testing your resolve, however, then the courageous thing to do is treat it as soon as possible for the sake of your oral health. Severe, throbbing pain that lasts for hours or possibly more might indicate an abscess, or pocket of infection that can destroy the tooth and damage the jawbone surrounding it. Draining the abscess, usually with root canal therapy, is necessary to quiet your tooth’s cries, or Dr. Stewart may recommend an extraction if the condition is severe enough.

About Your Livonia General Dentist:

Our philosophy is that excellent dental begins with developing a relationship with the patient. James Steward, DDS, and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.