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most common causes of a toothache
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6 Most Common Causes of a Toothache

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Your teeth might be small anatomical parts, but they can cause some big pain. If you try to tough it out, you could be ignoring the first warning signs of a serious oral health problem. 

Here, Dr. Lana Rozenberg, our board-certified dentist at Rozenberg Dental NYC, explores six possible reasons why your tooth is hurting. 

1. Infection

Gum disease and severe decay or damage can cause painful infections in your teeth. In addition to toothaches, infections may also trigger swelling, fever, redness, tenderness, and increased warmth. 

Some infections cause small, pimple-like bumps called abscesses to form on your gums. These require prompt dental care to halt the spread of infection. Depending on your symptoms, Dr. Rozenberg may drain the abscess and prescribe antibiotics to eradicate your infection and the resulting toothache.

2. Dental trauma

Dental trauma refers to any injury or accident that affects the health of your teeth. Most often, it’s the result of an accident or sports injury, but we’ve also seen patients damage their teeth by using them as tools, such as tearing open tough packaging material with their teeth. Dental trauma can cause painful injuries, including fractures, chips, and even knocked-out teeth. 

3. Problems with your wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are those “extra” molars that erupt in the back of your mouth. If they become impacted (stuck below the surface of your gums), the result is pain, swelling, bad breath, and a host of other problems. Even partially impacted wisdom teeth can be problematic. These teeth have partially emerged and can trap bacteria and debris, increasing the risk of infection. A tooth extraction is necessary in most cases. 

4. Gum disease

Despite the name, gum disease doesn’t just impact your gums. If the bacteria from your gums builds up along your tooth roots, you could develop a toothache. Gum disease treatments vary depending on the severity of your symptoms, but scaling and root planing are usually the first treatments we recommend. You may also need antibiotics if you have an active infection.

5. Tooth decay

Tooth pain is closely linked to tooth decay. Cavities, also known as tooth decay or dental caries, are permanently damaged areas of your enamel. Left untreated, these holes or pits can continue to expand and leave you vulnerable to more pain and infection. 

You might suspect a cavity-related toothache if:

  • You have pain when biting down
  • You see a dark spot or hole on your tooth
  • You notice a sudden increase in tooth sensitivity 

A simple filling can quickly stop the spread. When you receive a filling, we remove decayed tooth material and fill it with a special material, such as porcelain, composite amalgam, or gold, to prevent bacteria and debris from entering the cavity.

Because some cavities can hide between teeth, we may recommend dental X-rays to expose elusive cavities and ensure we’re treating all areas of decay.

6. Broken restoration

Damaged or missing restorations, including fillings and crowns, can also cause pain. Once these protective restorations are damaged, your tooth pulp (which contains nerves) is exposed and vulnerable. A tooth root that’s exposed to the elements can cause significant sensitivity and discomfort. 

The only remedy for a toothache caused by a broken restoration is to replace the restoration, but you may find that a first aid kit for teeth contains temporary fillings or crowns that keep you comfortable until you can visit us for an emergency dental appointment.

While you wait

If you can’t get in to see us right away, you may find temporary relief for your toothache through:

  • Over-the-counter pain relief medication
  • Gently swishing warm salt water in your mouth
  • Applying a topical anesthetic specifically designed for toothaches
  • Using a first aid kit for teeth to protect areas exposed due to broken fillings

In case of a dental emergency, such as a broken tooth, store the fragment in a small container of milk or saliva and try to make it to our office within 30 minutes of your dental injury. 

Don’t spend another day nursing a toothache. Call our friendly staff at 212-265-7724 or use easy our online booking feature to schedule an appointment at our office in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City, today. 

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Before and After Results

In the pictures below, you will see the results of 6 Most Common Causes of a Toothache for patients with various dental issues. These are only a sample of the treatments performed at our clinic. Over her decades of working in dentistry, Dr. Rozenberg has helped a lot of people, including celebrities and politicians, to name a few.

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