Why do I have a toothache?
Most of us know untreated cavities will grow into the nerve and cause pain. However, the question of why do we have nerves in our teeth in the first place still arises. The nerves in and surrounding our teeth serve as sensors that feed back information to the brain, they help us know how hard and crunchy the foods are.
The nerve in the tooth also serves as the first line of defense to an infection. Cavities are caused by bacteria invading the tooth structure. When the cavity grows deeper, the nerve in the tooth will be irritated and send the pain signal to the brain. These signals tell the body that there is something wrong with the tooth. A toothache can range from mild sensitivity to constant pounding pain that can wake you up at night. This is when we start thinking about calling our dentists.
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What purpose does a toothache serve in my overall health?
The toothache is the first sign of the body defending itself from a possible infection. We need to take care of the pain because pain is usually caused by a tooth with a cavity and possible infection. The teeth are connected to the body’s jaw bone and blood vessels. The pulsating pressure of the artery next to the infected nerve causes the pulsing and pounding pain.
Infection from the gum and teeth are leading the bacteria into the blood, this has been proven many times in research and real life fatality cases. Most recent documented case was report by USA Today News on Feb 1, 2017: "What began as toothache ends with young dad’s death". These risks of systemic health affected by infection from the mouth are very real and deadly.
Consequences of Prolonged toothaches
Toothache progression from a cavity or infect tooth:
Symptoms start with mild sensitivity to cold, lasts for short period of time, then progresses to sensitivity to hot and cold with a prolonged period of time. Then the toothache may stop for a while and this is the most confusing part of the toothache.
The reason the tooth stopped hurting is because the nerve is dead. You will not feel anything because the infection has killed the nerve. The infection will continue work its way down the nerve canal and the next time you feel the pain is when the infection is exiting the nerve canal and spreading to the bone. Abscess and swelling of the face are the next stage of the infection, a dental emergency. The consequence of ignoring the toothache could be seriously painful and fatal.
To sum it up, ignoring a toothache isn’t always the best option. Please listen to your tooth when it talks to you. All toothaches should be investigated and addressed accordingly.
- Emergency Dentist for Temecula Dr. Vinh Le
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