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Use it or Lose it: What to do with a troubled tooth

The all-too-familiar feeling of a throbbing tooth is the first sign that something is wrong in your mouth. However, it can be difficult to know when this goes from being a general annoyance to a serious problem. Here’s what we recommend when you have a troubled tooth.  

Toothache occurs when the nerves in and around your tooth become irritated.  This can be caused by a number of reasons including:

  • Tooth decay
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Tooth inflammation
  • A damaged filling
  • Gum disease
  • An impacted wisdom tooth (when the tooth breaks through the jaw at an unusual angle)
  • A tooth abscess (when the pulp has broken out of the tooth)

Some of these causes can be treated with a simple procedure. Tooth decay, tooth inflammation, gum disease and a damaged filling, for example, can usually be treated by antibiotics and minor treatment. Others, like sensitive teeth, can even be treated from home with medicated toothpaste and mouthwash. However, tooth abscesses and an impacted wisdom tooth usually require more intensive treatment.

It can be difficult to know if your toothache is severe enough to visit your dentists and even harder to identify the reason you have it in the first place. As a general rule, you should look for any obvious problems by looking in the mirror and judge for yourself if the pain is too intense before ringing your dentist. However, there are some telltale signs that you should contact your dentist immediately: 

  • Toothache that lasts more than 2 days 
  • Toothache that doesn’t subside when you take painkillers
  • Increased levels of pain when you bite or chew
  • A bad taste or smell in your mouth
  • A swollen cheek or jaw

If you experience any of the above symptoms, your mouth is probably telling you that something isn’t right – regardless of whether you can see anything wrong. In these cases, it is always best to phone your dentist and describe your problems to them. Normally, they will ask you to come in immediately so they can assess the situation. The sooner you identify that your case is serious, the more likely you are to be able to keep the tooth and remedy the problem.

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