Potential Causes of Tooth Pain & When to Seek Emergency Care

When tooth pain becomes an issue, the continual throbbing can feel all-consuming, making it hard to focus or enjoy activities. In this post, our Edmonton dentists discuss potential causes for tooth pain, what to do, and when it becomes a dental emergency.

Our oral health and overall physical health are closely linked, meaning when one of these is not at our best, it can affect the other. If our mouth and gums aren't regularly cleaned and cared for, many dental issues including gum disease and toothache can develop and lead to serious health issues. 

In most cases, a solid oral hygiene routine will prevent toothaches, chipped or fractured teeth and dental emergencies. However, you may still experience pain in your teeth and gums for many reasons. They can come on suddenly or develop gradually, and get serious if left untreated. 

Why do my teeth hurt?

Whether you've got a minor oral health issue you've been meaning to get checked out or sudden, severe pain that's come on and worsened within the last few hours, any pain in your teeth and gums should be examined and diagnosed by your dentist as soon as possible. 

These issues can develop any time of the day or night — sometimes at the most inconvenient times for your schedule. They range from sensitivity or wisdom teeth emerging to tooth trauma or injury to or an abscess that can soon become life-threatening if not treated. Needless to say, oral health issues are physical health issues and should be taken seriously.  

If the issue is determined to be severe or critical, they may recommend coming in for treatment as soon as possible. In less extreme cases, you can schedule an appointment for a future date. In the meantime, an ice pack can be used to dull pain, inflammation or discomfort. You may also want to take over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen until you can see your dentist. 

What are common causes of tooth pain?

We've briefly mentioned some common causes of toothaches above. Let's go a little more in-depth and explore the types of issues our dentists at Emergency Dental Clinics regularly treat. 

Abscessed Tooth

Bacteria can infect areas near a tooth, such as at the tip of a root (periapical), in the dental pulp or in the gums (periodontal). While a periapical abscess typically happens as a result of an untreated dental cavity, injury or previous dental work, a periodontal abscess can occur with serious gum disease. It's imperative to have both of these treated as soon as possible as they can not only cause pain, but may trigger swelling and a deeper infection that can spread elsewhere in the body, eventually becoming life-threatening. 

Cracked or Broken Teeth

While our teeth are strong enough to endure the continual pressure of chewing on a daily basis, they are not immune to damage and can become cracked, broken or chipped due to injury, structural weakness or biting something (like a nut) that's too hard. Having these fractures treated expeditiously can alleviate pain, protect your oral health and help restore the appearance of your tooth. 

Tooth Injury or Trauma

Whether due to a collision on the sports field, fall, blow to the mouth or some other type of impact involving your face or jaw, teeth are susceptible to trauma and injury. While we should always take precautions such as wearing a sports mouth guard to stay safe at work and play, sometimes accidents happen. When they do, our dentists at Emergency Dental Clinics are here to diagnose and treat your issue, potentially by re-attaching a knocked out tooth if possible, placing a dental crown on the damaged tooth or placing a stabilizing splint and eventually performing a root canal. 

Lost or Broken Fillings

Filings that are broken or missing can leave tissue exposed, causing increased pain and sensitivity. This can also leave areas vulnerable to bacteria, which can cause further deterioration. To treat this issue, the dentist will take an X-ray, assess the problem and review options for replacing the filling. Procedures such as a dental crown placement or root canal, or in rare cases a tooth extraction, may be required.

Wisdom Teeth

As wisdom teeth emerge, they may cause pain if they are crowded, impacted or erupting improperly. This problem with your third set of molars may become severe enough to require emergency care as spacing and crowding issues may lead to impaction and infection. This can, of course, cause more serious health issues so should be treated seriously. Your dentist can assess whether your wisdom teeth need to be removed and develop a treatment plan to preserve your oral and overall health. 

Teeth Grinding

Repetitive motion such as grinding of teeth (bruxism) can cause wear on your teeth and eventual pain. If this pain becomes severe enough that it's affecting your daily life and has resulted in a fracture or cracked tooth, you may need to see one of our Edmonton dentists for emergency care. We may recommend a filling to repair damage

What does it mean when your tooth hurts?

Pain in your teeth can often indicate a larger issue with your oral or overall health, so it's best not to ignore it. Whether an untreated cavity, chipped tooth or lost filling, it's important that these issues are detected and treated by a dentist in order to prevent and stop infections and other general health issues that may develop. 

What helps with tooth pain?

Having your underlying problem diagnosed and treated by a dentist is important and can likely reduce, alleviate or relieve the pain in your tooth. It may help to apply an ice pack to the affected area and/or take an over-the-counter pain reliever until you can get to a same-day appointment with one of our dentists. 

What to Do for a Toothache

Many patients ask us what to do about toothache until they come in for treatment. Until you can see a dentist, consider taking the following steps to manage your toothache:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  • If there's bleeding, use gauze to apply pressure to the area until bleeding stops.
  • Apply a cold ice pack to the area in question (cheek or lips) to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. 

Toothache Treatment at Emergency Dental Clinics

Any pain in your teeth, gums or mouth should be examined by a dentist as soon as possible. The issue will not heal without treatment from a dental professional. Further, not having these problems treated in a timely manner will cause them to worsen. Our dentists in Edmonton can examine your sore tooth, diagnose the issue and recommend treatment options such as tooth-coloured crowns or fillings, a root canal, or in rare cases, extraction. 

Patients can take from a few days to two weeks to recover from the procedure. Depending on the nature of the problem and its severity, the dentist may ask that you attend a followup appointment to check that there are no problems following the initial dental work. Otherwise, your regular dentist can evaluate repairs during your annual checkups. 

Do you have tooth pain or other symptoms of severe oral health issues? Contact our Edmonton dentists right away. We can examine the problem and recommend treatment options.

Have a dental emergency in Edmonton? We're here on weekends and after hours to help.

Dental emergencies always happen when you least expect them. Our friendly and experienced dental team is on call to assist you when you need us most.

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