How do toothaches develop?

When a tooth hurts, it’s an alarm signal to take seriously. Depending on the specific cause, toothache can manifest itself as dull, boring, stabbing or knocking pain, indicating acute or potential tissue damage. In any case, toothache is unpleasant and even people who are very afraid of the dentist can be persuaded to lie down on the dentist’s chair if they only last long enough.

A healthy tooth does not hurt

Our teeth consist of different parts: A root has grown deep into the jawbone and is stabilized by the gums. The visible part of a tooth, the crown, is protected by a particularly hard and resistant layer of white enamel that surrounds the underlying dentin, which is much softer and more sensitive. The dentin contains fine nerve fibres that converge in the pulp, which controls the sensation of pain and reacts to the slightest disturbance or damage.

Billions of bacteria and other germs settle in the oral cavity and cannot harm a healthy tooth with intact enamel. For example, they are neutralized and diluted by saliva or removed when brushing teeth. However, if they can reproduce undisturbed, for example due to inadequate oral hygiene, and settle on the gums and teeth, this can over time lead to inflammatory changes such as periodontitis or damage to the teeth due to caries.

If, for example, tooth decay damages the enamel to such an extent that the sensitive dentin is exposed, it can stress the tooth nerve and continue to attack it. If this comes into direct contact with germs and becomes inflamed, this leads to severe toothache, which is an unmistakable indication of a massive problem.

Toothache right to the dentist

Of course, there are a variety of home remedies for toothache, and pain pills can also help to eliminate toothache and suppress the pain – at least for a while. However, unlike a graze, a tooth does not hurt during the healing process, but only when it is damaged. And unlike our skin, teeth cannot heal themselves, a defect must be treated by a dentist to prevent progression. Therefore, it is not recommended to cover the pain permanently with painkillers, rather the cause must be analyzed and eliminated.

Depending on the severity of the damage, the doctor decides whether the tooth can be preserved or must be extracted. So if you suffer from toothache for too long and do not go to the dentist in time, you risk total loss and in the worst case a set of teeth at a relatively young age. Small damages can be repaired with little effort and the causes of toothache can be eliminated permanently. If you are afraid of pain during dental treatment, you can rest assured that the dentist will be able to eliminate all sensations with an anaesthetic injection and make the treatment completely painless.

Alarm signal bleeding gums

But teeth are not only threatened by enamel, the gums can also become inflamed and cause toothache. If you chew a hard piece of bread, for example, you can injure your gums and then do something for the care and health of your mouth, such as gurgling with chamomile tea. This has an anti-inflammatory effect and helps the irritated or injured gums to heal – which is accelerated in the moist environment of the mouth anyway.

Those who brush their teeth regularly and notice blood on their toothbrush or painful areas on the gums should take these warning signals seriously, as they indicate injuries to the gums. These can allow germs to penetrate and spread to the root of the tooth, which can become inflamed in the same way as the jawbone – associated with severe toothache. Therefore, the symptoms should be clarified with your dentist, who can intervene in acute periodontitis and fight the inflammation deep in the tissue.

Toothaches can have many causes

In addition to obvious causes such as damage or inflammation, toothache can sometimes have other causes, such as nocturnal teeth grinding or jaw malpositions. Inflammations in the middle ear or paranasal sinuses can also radiate to the teeth and also manifest themselves as toothache. Migraine patients also often have to struggle with toothache without the teeth or the periodontium being directly responsible. Even a narrowing of the coronary arteries or a heart attack can lead to severe toothache.

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Christina Cherry
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