Toothache | The Dental Room, Balwyn North, Melbourne

Toothache: just because it doesn’t hurt doesn’t mean it’s okay

While many people succumb to the myth of ‘if it doesn’t hurt, it’s ok’, toothaches can actually be the opposite. In fact, if somebody has a toothache, after a period of time, it actually stops hurting.

But don’t be fooled. Just because a toothache stops hurting doesn’t mean it’s the end of the problem.

What is happening when your tooth hurts?

While toothaches can be sharp and sudden one moment, they can become dull and chronic the next. When someone is in pain and then, suddenly, it stops hurting, the usual response is to think the problem has gone away.

Generally though, it comes back again at some point down the track, and it’s usually a lot worse than before. For many, teeth can be hypersensitive to different stimuli which may be why the pain comes and goes. Pain is always an indicator that there is a problem—but it’s not the only indicator.

In some cases, a client may have a large hole in a tooth, but feel no pain at all. This is simply because the infection hasn’t reached a nerve yet.

I’ve had clients come in for a check-up, only to discover a major issue such as a cracked tooth.

What happens if you ignore your toothache?

As dentists, our job is to educate our clients. So, our first task is to explain that although you are not in significant pain, if you have a cracked tooth, at some point it’s going to hurt or it’s going to break. In this situation, treatment can be a lot more invasive and expensive.

In other situations, a toothache may actually be an indication of a much larger problem, for example, a bacterial infection.

I can assure you, if there is a bacterial infection in your nerve, the pain is going to get a lot worse. In many cases, the infection causes swelling, which is basically the infection tracking down the tissue. Additionally, it could end up being a medical emergency because if it tracks down the throat it can cause breathing issues. So, it’s important that aching teeth actually get looked at sooner rather than later.

In conclusion

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is that while many people believe dentistry is expensive, it’s not. Neglect is.

When you neglect your teeth and ignore the pain, or lack thereof, problems build, and so do the bills. Getting regular check-ups is a foolproof way to ensure your teeth are well looked after and any issues can be found and dealt with prior to them getting worse.

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