The best approach to manage tooth sensitivity and toothache
Saskatoon dentists advice for sensitive teeth and toothache
Tooth sensitivity and toothache are two different conditions, but they can sometimes be related. Tooth sensitivity is generally less severe and easier to treat than toothache, but it’s still important that you consult a dentist if your teeth start to hurt for any reason. In this article we’ll explain what causes tooth pain and the best approach to treatment depending on the cause.
The anatomy of the tooth
Understanding the difference between toothache and tooth sensitivity requires a basic knowledge of the tooth anatomy. T
he enamel, dentin are hard tissues that make up the crown (the visible part of the tooth above the gum line). These tissues surround the sensitive pulp cavity which contains nerves and blood vessels. The root is the part of your tooth below the gumline that anchors your tooth to your jaw. It contains cementum hard tissue and pulp soft tissue.
What is the difference between tooth sensitivity and toothache?
Sensitivity is a dull pain usually caused by a thin or damaged enamel that leaves the dentin exposed. Teeth may be sensitive to hot, cold, sweetness, or pressure. If you have worn down or damaged enamel, it makes your teeth more sensitive because the tooth’s protective layer is thinner.
A toothache is more acute and usually caused by a cracked or broken tooth, a cavity, root canal infection or abscessed tooth—anything that exposes the inner dentin or pulp can cause a toothache. Some people may even feel pain in their teeth if they have a sinus infection or a TMJ disorder.
Tooth sensitivity and pain can be caused by a variety of factors:
- Poor oral hygiene and imbalance of bacteria in the mouth
- Bruxism or night grinding
- Tooth decay
- Worn tooth enamel
- Highly acidic or sugary diet
- Frequent or improper whitening treatments
- Brushing too hard
- Receding gums
- Gingivitis or gum disease
When to seek dental care for tooth pain or sensitivity?
If you are experiencing increased sensitivity in your teeth, it’s best to seek dental treatment sooner rather than later. Your dentist can help you determine the cause of your sensitivity and offer treatment options that will relieve your discomfort. If you have a toothache, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible. If your pain is getting worse or spreading to other teeth, contact us immediately. Often traumas to the face or jaw can result in dental cracks or breaks that lead to toothaches—these are considered minor dental emergencies and should be addressed immediately with restoration or cosmetic treatments.
The best steps to take if you have a toothache:
- See a dentist as soon as you can. They can identify the cause of your discomfort, recommend treatments and safe pain management, and prevent complications from developing. If you don’t have dental insurance (or if it just doesn’t cover everything), visit a student clinic in your area. Student clinics are usually free or low cost and staffed by students who are supervised by licensed dentists.
- Keep the affected teeth clean. Rinse with warm salt water and use a soft-bristled toothbrush, being careful not to apply too much pressure when brushing as this can further damage your enamel.
- Be careful when managing pain. Anything that takes the pain away without addressing the cause of the problem could make matters worse down the road. Use an over-the-counter painkiller or desensitizing toothpaste when needed but consult with your dentist first. Avoid hot or cold food and beverages, especially acidic things.
- Remineralize your enamel with fluoride twice daily if possible. When used regularly for four or more weeks, this can help strengthen enamel.
Regular dental checkups and cleanings are the best prevention your dentist can offer
Preventing sensitive teeth and toothache is simple when you understand the causes. Taking good care of your teeth includes regular visits to your dental clinic for exams and professional cleanings. If you are experiencing sensitivity, mention it at your appointment and start treating it early before you develop a full-blown toothache.
Visit our downtown Saskatoon dentist clinic with your tooth pain questions
The most important thing to remember about tooth sensitivity is that you should never ignore it. If the pain becomes unbearable or lasts for more than three days, contact your dentist immediately. We can help determine the cause of your toothache and get rid of it once and for all.