Toothache! Why does it hurt and what can be done?
It has been said that a toothache is the most intense pain that can be experienced. In fact, a really bad toothache can feel like your head is exploding. What causes a toothache and why is it so painful?
The causes of toothache
A toothache is the result when the nerve of a tooth has become infected. This infection is most commonly caused by a deep cavity, but can also be the result of a trauma to the tooth or a very severe case of periodontal disease. When a toothache is really bad, it can be difficult to locate where exactly the pain is coming from. Sometimes the pain of a toothache feels like it is coming from the ears or the jaw. If your tooth is very sensitive to hot and cold (and maybe sweet) or if it is painful to bite on the tooth, an infected root is a very probable cause and even if you don't have a toothache at present, it might be on it's way. But why is a toothache so painful?
Why a toothache hurts so bad
When your finger is infected, it normally swells up because of your body’s own immune response. This is possible because the tissues in your finger are relatively soft and flexible. When you have an infection in a tooth, the immune response is the same – but a tooth cannot swell up the same way as a finger can. The infection is caught inside the hard tissues of the tooth, causing a very large pressure. This is the reason for the intense toothache. When the pressure gets too high, the infection will start to work it’s way out of the tooth through the root and into the surrounding bone structure. From here it will continue to push it’s way out through the hard tissues. At this point the toothache is especially painful. Eventually you might develop an abscess, which can normally be seen in the mouth around the area of the root of the tooth which is infected. Sometimes the abscess is even outside the mouth under the chin. When the abscess bursts, the pressure is off and many people feel an instant relief from the toothache. This does not mean that the problem is solved, however. The reason for the toothache - the infection - is still there and treatment is necessary.
What can be done about a toothache?
There are only two ways of treating an infected tooth effectively. The simple solution is to pull out the tooth. Since most people feel that it is best to keep their teeth as long as possible, however, the more common treatment - when possible - is root canal therapy. In some cases it is necessary to combine the treatment with antibiotics.
Whether you are experiencing a toothache now, have experienced a toothache in the past or are hoping to avoid a toothache in the future, your teeth will benefit very much from a routine of good dental hygiene and regular check-ups at the dentist or dental hygienist.
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