In Vancouver, about 10.4% of residents report having at least one toothache in the past month, and the majority of these people (69.9%) managed their tooth pain effectively by taking OTC painkillers.
Even so, there is a troubling trend in our at-home responses to toothaches: Overall, all the current data on dental care in Canada — especially in British Columbia — points to the fact that people would experience less and less severe toothaches if they had earlier access to dental care.
The Most Common Causes Of Toothaches
Broadly speaking, tooth cavities are the most common cause of any kind of toothache. Nevertheless, specific types of tooth pain can signal the presence of other problems and yield clues about the severity of decay involved:
Type 1: Temporary Tooth Sensitivity
If you experience temporary tooth sensitivity (lasting fewer than 30 seconds) when ingesting hot or cold foods/beverages, it is likely not cause for significant concern. Most often, this kind of tooth pain is the result of mild tooth decay or gum recession.
Professional dentists and hygienists at most every dental clinic in Vancouver will recommend troubleshooting this kind of tooth pain by using a softer toothbrush and toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. If sensitivity persists after this point or becomes more long-lasting, the best dental clinics in Vancouver will schedule an appointment for you in short order; persistent sensitivity and lingering pain can signal the presence of dental cavities and gum disease that cannot be managed at home.
Type 2: Lingering Tooth Sensitivity
If the pain you experience in response to hot or cold temperature exposure lasts longer than 30 seconds, you very likely have one or more untreated cavities or significant trauma-related tooth damage that needs professional attention. When you visit a dental clinic in Vancouver for this kind of toothache, your dentist will likely take x-rays to determine the severity of the decay/damage and may recommend a root canal procedure.
Type 3: Throbbing Pain Or Constant Pressure In The Tooth That Is Aggravated By Chewing
This type of toothache is most often indicative of an infection in the dental pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth, surrounding the nerve). This requires a dental appointment at a qualified dental clinic in Vancouver as, left untreated, this type of infection can easily become an abscess. An abscess, characterized by severe throbbing pain, would require emergency treatment.
Type 4: Sharp, Stabbing Pain When Biting Down
Sharp pain in the mouth can indicate a wide variety of conditions that advance with varying speed. For example, this type of pain can signal that the tooth has cracked or chipped to expose the nerve, or that an existing filling has become loose or that there is recurrent decay at the site of an old filling. In either of these cases, conducting a brief visual examination of the tooth at home can help you determine the cause.
Yet this type of pain can also indicate severe tooth decay, infection of the dental pulp, or even the early stages of an abscess. Consequently, just because you cannot see a cause for the pain does not mean it is not a significant problem.
In either case, the best course of action is to seek treatment at a professional dental clinic in Vancouver, where a dentist can make a definitive diagnosis of the root cause.
Type 5: Dull Aches Or Pressure (Especially In The Upper Jaw)
Among the different toothaches people experience, a dull ache or feeling of pressure is the least likely to be associated with tooth decay. Rather, experiencing this kind of toothache may be a sign of grinding your teeth (bruxism) or that your wisdom teeth are erupting . Wearing a mouthguard may help minimize this kind of pain associated with bruxism, but only a visit to a qualified dental clinic in Vancouver can diagnose and help manage wisdom teeth eruption.
The Best Tooth Pain Management Tips
The professionals at your local dental clinic in Vancouver may recommend using an ice pack, OTC oral anesthetics, or salt-water oral rinse to manage toothaches at home. For mild pain, they may suggest changes to your dental hygiene routine that can circumvent the need for an appointment.
Yet given the wide variety of potential causes of tooth pain, it is important to recognize that few at-home pain relief practices prove effective in every case, and the root causes of toothaches are rarely “curable” at home. Moreover, some well-known “tricks” for treating toothaches without professional dental care can do more harm than good. Using a hydrogen peroxide rinse, for example, can cause irritation and burns in the mouth and throat if the wrong concentration is used and ingestion of even the “right” concentration causes stomach upset and vomiting.
Consequently, the best tactic for managing tooth pain is to seek the guidance of a trained dental professional concerning your specific situation. Contact us or browse Smile Well Dental for more information regarding toothaches and other dental tips.