Learning to listen to the messages your teeth are sending you.

Do you have an aching tooth that distracts you throughout the day or sends sharp pains shooting through your jaw when you’re trying to eat a meal? It’s easy to try and write these kinds of pains off when you’re busy and feel like you should prioritize other tasks over your tooth pain, especially if over-the-counter pain medication is strong enough to knock out or reduce your pain. Whether you feel like you don’t have time in your schedule to make a trip to the dentist, that you have bigger priorities, or you’re trying to put off going to the dentist because you’re worried about what they’ll find, you should never ignore a toothache.

Even small toothaches are trying to tell you something about your oral health and will likely worsen without treatment into a larger, more painful dental issue that requires a more expensive treatment. Getting prompt treatment can even mean the difference between saving or losing your tooth. As a result, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist in Greensboro, NC, to treat your toothache as soon as possible. To help you know what kind of dental issues you may be facing and understand why even a small toothache is a cause for concern, here are 5 types of tooth pain and what it may be trying to tell you.

1. A Toothache that Causes Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity often appears as a sharp pain that occurs in response to hot, cold, or sweet foods, then fades relatively quickly. This pain can be relatively minor or it can be quite painful, and it can indicate a range of issues, including relatively simple things like brushing your teeth too hard, enamel erosion, or gum recession. It can also be a sign of more major issues like a cavity or an abscess. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, especially if it’s minor, there are several steps you can take to eliminate it at home before you make an extra trip to our office.

Make sure you’re brushing your teeth gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush, since scrubbing your teeth too hard can erode your enamel and result in tooth sensitivity. You can also use a specialized toothpaste that’s designed to help reduce tooth sensitivity and make sure that you’re brushing your teeth with it for two minutes at least twice a day, as well as flossing, and using mouthwash. If you’re still struggling with tooth sensitivity after you’ve taken these steps, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Farless and mention your tooth sensitivity, especially if it focuses on a single tooth, so that he can examine your mouth more closely for signs of decay.

2. Tooth Pain that Causes Widespread Soreness

Another common type of tooth pain is a more widespread, generalized soreness that worsens when you chew. In many cases, this type of soreness, which you may notice is worse in the mornings, is caused by clenching or grinding your teeth. Whether you’re doing this during the day or in your sleep without being aware of it, it can wreak havoc on the health of your teeth. Clenching or grinding runs the risk of cracking, chipping, or breaking your teeth, and even if you avoid dental injuries like this, it’ll wear your teeth down over time. Any of these issues can be painful and may require treatments like dental bonding or dental crowns to seal cracks or restore broken teeth. Thankfully, Dr. Farless can help you prevent dental injuries caused by clenching or grinding and eliminate this frequent soreness using oral appliances like nightguards, which are comfortable, custom-made devices that you wear to sleep to prevent you from clenching or grinding your teeth.

3. Dull, Aching Pain due to a Toothache

This type of dull, aching toothache is usually relatively minor, to the point that taking over-the-counter pain medication will likely knock it out temporarily, but it’s persistent and will continue coming back time and time again—even if you avoid chewing on the affected side of your mouth. In this case, the likely culprit of your pain is a cavity that has reached the center of your tooth, which means that you likely need a root canal. The pulp at the center of your tooth contains all of its nerve endings, so small cavities are usually painless—as a result, even minor tooth pain can be a sign that decay has reached the tooth’s center and may need to be removed with root canal therapy. While this type of toothache isn’t major enough to be considered a dental emergency, it’s still vital that you get treatment as soon as possible. The decay will only get worse if you put off visiting your family dentist, potentially resulting in an infection or loss of the tooth entirely, so it’s wise to immediately call and schedule an appointment at your Greensboro dentist office.

4. A Toothache With Sharp, Shooting Pain

These shooting pains are often intermittent but incredibly painful, so much so that you may find yourself taking in a sharp breath and then holding it while you wait for it to pass. Pain may shoot through one or more teeth in response to actions like chewing, opening your mouth, or changes in temperature—sometimes even breathing in cold air can trigger it. If this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from a cracked tooth (which isn’t always visible to the naked eye), a cavity, or an abscess. Without immediate treatment, each of these issues can become worse, so if you’re experiencing this type of pain you should call our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Farless—depending on the severity of your pain or other symptoms like a fever or swelling, you may even need to schedule an emergency appointment.

5. A Tooth that is Experiencing Extreme Throbbing Pain

A tooth that is constantly experiencing extreme, throbbing pain, often bad enough that you simply can’t ignore it and over-the-counter pain medications don’t knock it out entirely, is the telltale sign of an infection or abscess. You may also experience other symptoms, such as swelling, the area being hot to the touch, or a fever. Any time you have a severe toothache like this—and especially if it’s accompanied by any of these additional symptoms—you need to schedule an emergency dental appointment right away.

Resolving painful decay and protecting your teeth.

If you suspect that you have a cavity, getting it treated as soon as possible will help ensure that the procedure to resolve the decay is easier and less involved than it would otherwise be. In some cases, you may be able to choose between getting a large filling or a dental crown, and while it may be tempting to choose the cheaper option of a filling, it’s wise to consider a dental crown as well. Large fillings are more prone to cracking your tooth in the future, especially if the tooth has undergone a root canal, and fillings don’t do anything to protect against future tooth decay. In contrast, dental crowns fit over your natural tooth like a cap, holding it together and protecting it from future injury and decay. This can make it an especially wise choice if you’re worried about future cavities, for instance, if you have any increased risk factors for tooth decay.

Although there are many potential causes for your tooth pain, all of them require immediate attention from a dentist—even if your pain is minor. Starting a search for a “dentist near me” or the “best dentist in Greensboro, NC,” can help you find a skilled and compassionate dentist like Dr. Farless who will treat your toothache. Once your treatment is complete, you should also do your best to fit in a dental checkup every six months. We’ll work with your schedule to find a time that works for you, and your mouth will thank you for the extra effort and care that will keep it healthy and pain-free!