That Ache May Not Be A Cavity

added on: June 29, 2015

When a patient comes in because of a tooth ache, it’s most likely due to a cavity. However, in a number of cases, we find that other reasons are creating an ache that is not always INSIDE the tooth.

It’s not unusual for the first sign of gingivitis to be a sore feeling. Especially with back teeth, this can create the sensation of a deep ache.  Soreness may also be accompanied by some bleeding when brushing or flossing in the area. When caught early, you can combat gingivitis with a thorough oral hygiene cleaning and proper home care. If not resolved fully, however, gingivitis can develop into gum disease. This requires more time and expense to treat so catching this early is advantageous in a number of ways.

An ache can also be caused by gum recession. This is when the gums pull away from the base of the tooth, exposing sensitive, darker areas that are actually the tooth root. Because tooth roots don’t have the protective enamel like your teeth, these areas are much more sensitive. Gum recession can cause an ache (or sometime a ‘jolt’) when you eat or drink anything hot or cold. Receded gums also leave you more vulnerable to developing gum disease.

When gum tissue is exposed to irritants or harsh treatment, gum recession may occur.  Other causes may include brushing too rigorously, tooth grinding (which may ’tilt’ the tooth’s position), consumption of too much sugar or acidic foods and smoking. Overuse of mouthwash or over-the-counter tooth whiteners may also cause irritation leading to gums recession.

Typically, an examination of the gums will reveal signs of gum recession or the presence of gingivitis (or more advanced levels of gum disease).  If these indications are not present, you likely have a cavity, crack in the tooth or dead tooth nerve (which requires a root canal). An ‘x-ray’ (actually, we do digital imaging for a clearer view) will show precisely where the problem lies.

Regardless of the origin, the sooner you have the problem treated, the more you’ll save in time and treatment costs. Like Benjamin Franklin once said, “A stitch in time saves nine!”

An ache is your body’s warning signal that something is wrong. We’re here to help you enjoy a healthy confident smile regardless of your need. Begin with an exam and learn how you can avoid problems in the first place! Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.

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Dr. Ban R. Barbat

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