If you’ve ever had a toothache, you don’t need us to tell you how painful it can be. For many, it is the most intense pain that they have ever experienced.
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. But why does an infected root cause such intense pain?
When your finger is infected, it 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 in the same way a finger can. The infection is caught inside the hard tissues of the tooth, causing extreme 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 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 still necessary.
There are only two ways of effectively treating an infected tooth. The first is root canal treatment, in which the oral surgeon drills into the tooth and removes the infected tissue. If this is not possible, the tooth must be removed. In some cases it is necessary to combine the treatment with antibiotics.
No one should have to experience a toothache. They can easily be prevented by regular visits to the dentist, where we can spot small cavities or onset of periodontal disease before they progress to the point of causing toothache.