A toothache is no laughing matter. You might find temporary relief with over-the-counter pain medication or other toothache home remedies, but the aching will return, possibly worse, if its underlying cause isn’t treated. If it’s ignored long enough, an aching tooth can become a severely damaged or diseased tooth, and may need to be removed in extreme cases. If you have a toothache, then visit your dentist as soon as possible to diagnose why and treat it before the issue grows worse.
The most common reasons for toothaches are dental infections that compromise your teeth’s defense systems. For instance, tooth decay, the condition that causes cavities, begins when oral bacteria produce acid that erodes the enamel surrounding and protecting your teeth. Weak enamel can expose the tooth’s main part, or dentin, which is porous and sends sensory information to the tooth’s nerves. Exposed dentin leads to sensitive teeth, and the aching will grow worse as tooth decay sets in and the cavity grows larger.
You don’t need bacterial acid to wear down your tooth enamel. You can do it yourself by constantly grinding your teeth together. Known as bruxism, habitual teeth grinding subjects your teeth to more pressure and friction than they’re meant to handle. Over time, grinding your teeth can change the contours of their chewing surfaces and strip them free of enamel, leaving one or more of your teeth vulnerable and sensitive.
While most toothaches indicate trouble with the health of your teeth, some instances of tooth sensitivity may not be caused by a dental issue at all. A sinus infection, or sinusitis, involves a bacterial infection in the hollow cavities of your face and cheekbones. Your largest sinus, called the maxillary sinus, is located close to the roots of your upper teeth. The swollen tissues of your sinuses can place pressure on your teeth’s roots, causing them to ache.
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