I have a toothache, what does it mean?

Having a toothache is no fun, especially when you’re not sure what’s causing it. The pain can begin to affect your quality of life and even limit your ability to eat, depending on how severe it is. It’s important to see your dentist and find the root of the problem — pun intended! — so you can get it fixed as soon as possible. 

Potential Causes

There are a lot of factors that could be contributing to your toothache:

  • Tooth sensitivity.
  • Tooth fracture.
  • A damaged filling.
  • Repetitive motions.
  • Eruption or removal of a tooth. 

These are all minor causes that your dentist can help treat, but sometimes your toothache might be from a more severe underlying issue:

  • Cavities — tooth decay can begin causing pain in your tooth the more severe it gets.
  • TMJ — a type of temporomandibular disorder which can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. This disorder can cause toothaches in the affected areas.
  • Infected gums.
  • Abscessed tooth — a bacterial infection inside the center of the tooth.

If you’re experiencing tooth pain that won’t go away, or is worsening, call your dentist right away and make an appointment to have it checked out. 

Overcoming Dental Anxiety

May is National Mental Health Month — a time to fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. Many people struggle with anxiety every day to the point where it can roll over into basic tasks such as going to the dentist.

Having dental anxiety can prevent you from getting the care you need to keep your smile healthy. Whether you’ve had a bad experience or have just always felt nervous about going to the dentist, it can be hard to work up the courage to schedule those annual checkups. Overcoming these fears can help ensure that you don’t miss out on any dental problems you might have. 

Here are a few tips that may help you overcome your fear of the dentist:

  • Find the right dentist. There are a lot of dentists who are specially trained to help with those who have a fear of the dentist. Reach out to dentists in your area and find the best option for you.
  • Don’t go alone. For your first visit back to the dentist, bring a buddy! Whether that be a friend or family member, having someone there to offer support can help immensely.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. Things like meditation and deep breathing exercises before a dental appointment can help calm your nerves and put your mind at ease. Take a deep breath in, hold for four seconds and then slowly let it out. Repeat!
  • Distract yourself. Bring some earbuds or headphones to your appointment and listen to music while the dentist cleans your teeth. If there is a TV in the room, ask your dentist if you can put something on to watch.
  • Ask questions. Always ask your dentist any questions you may have about what to expect at your appointment, the treatment they recommend, or about the dentist’s background or qualifications. Getting as much information as possible can help prepare you for what will happen and ease your nerves. 

When in doubt, talk to your dentist! Communicate your fears and concerns, and they will be able to help you overcome your anxiety.  

 Why Oral Health Is So Important for Your Overall Health

While you might not think your oral health has any connection to your overall health, they often go hand in hand. Your mouth is full of bacteria, both good and bad, which can sometimes spiral into certain diseases or infections. 

What conditions are linked to oral health?

As Mayo Clinic explains, there are many conditions linked to oral health, and it’s important to be aware of them:

  • Endocarditis. This infection of the inner lining of your heart chambers or valves typically occurs when bacteria from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
  • Pregnancy and birth complications. Gum disease has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Pneumonia and other respiratory infections. Inhaling certain bacteria from your mouth, including bacteria from infected teeth or gums, can be pulled into your lungs and cause pneumonia or other respiratory diseases.
  • Arthritis. Tooth loss due to gum disease increases the risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Dementia. Bacteria due to gum disease can enter your brain through nerve channels or the bloodstream, possibly leading to Alzheimer’s disease.

How can you help prevent these from happening?

  • Proper dental care. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, using mouthwash and replacing your toothbrush every three to four months are all ways to practice proper dental care. 
  • Regular checkups. It’s important to see your dentist at least twice a year to ensure that everything is healthy and treat any possible issues. 
  • Healthy eating habits. Limiting sugary food and drinks helps prevent cavities and gum disease, which can lead to other conditions if left untreated. 

Anytime you notice a new oral problem beginning to develop, contact your dentist immediately to ensure that it’s taken care of as soon as possible. You never know when it could potentially affect your overall health. 

Abbeville Dentistry is a part of Mortenson Dental Partners.

I have a toothache, what does it mean?

Having a toothache is no fun, especially when you’re not sure what’s causing it. The pain can begin to affect your quality of life and even limit your ability to eat, depending on how severe it is. It’s important to see your dentist and find the root of the problem — pun intended! — so […]

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