If you’re currently dealing with a toothache but avoiding a dental visit, you should know that it’s unlikely to get better on its own. It may subside momentarily, but that toothache is telling you something, and you should visit a dentist as soon as possible.
Dental anxiety is not only normal but incredibly common, so you shouldn’t feel so bad that it’s keeping you from seeking the toothache relief you need. However, the irony of avoiding the dentist out of dental anxiety is that you’re most likely only setting yourself up for bigger complications and more invasive procedures in the future.
It’s not normal for your teeth to hurt for no reason, and the longer you go without getting them checked out, the worse they’re likely to get. Here’s what you can anticipate if you continue to ignore that toothache.
What Your Toothache May Be Telling You
There are a few different kinds of toothaches, and each one of them is an indication of some kind of issue with your oral health. Here are some of the most common kinds of tooth pain and what they may mean.
Pain and Sensitivity When Flossing
If you find it painful to floss your teeth, it doesn’t mean you should stop flossing. It means you may have gum disease, and you should get it checked out as soon as possible.
Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar in your mouth. It can lead to many oral health issues, some of which are far more uncomfortable than painful flossing.
Sensitivity to Cold Air and Cold Foods
If exposure to cold causes your teeth to ache, it can indicate one of two things. The first is that you may be grinding your teeth, a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism can occur during the day or while you sleep. It can wear away the protective layer of enamel on your teeth, exposing the more sensitive parts to temperature fluctuations.
The second possibility is that gum disease has caused the gum tissue to recede around your teeth, exposing the sensitive tooth roots. If the teeth that hurt when exposed to cold appear longer than others, that’s actually gum recession revealing more of the tooth.
Throbbing or Pulsating Pain
A toothache that throbs or pulsates may result from dental cavities or tooth damage. It may also be caused by a tooth infection, which may result in a dental abscess. Dental abscesses can be identified by redness and swelling around the affected tooth and the appearance of pus near the gum line.
None of these issues will go away in time. In fact, they are likely to worsen and lead to further and potentially serious complications. It’s important to contact your dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible if you’re experiencing this kind of tooth pain.
What could happen if you ignore a toothache?
Whether the tooth pain you’re experiencing is minor and easy to ignore or severe and debilitating, ignoring it is not the approach you want to take.
The worst-case scenario would be a tooth infection, which would require a root canal procedure to treat. An infected tooth can form a dental abscess, which is a dental emergency. The infection could spread to other parts of your body and become a life-threatening situation.
While this may sound frightening, you shouldn’t panic. All you need to do is contact your dentist and tell them what you’re dealing with. They will give you instructions on how to seek some temporary tooth pain relief while you await your dental appointment.
Home Remedies for Tooth Pain
If you really want to know how to get rid of toothache, you should know that the only answer is to see your dentist. However, there are some home tooth pain remedies you can use to ease the discomfort before you get into the dental office.
Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Depending on the severity of the pain, some over-the-counter pain relievers may prove useful. If they don’t seem to be doing anything, you may want to seek emergency dental care.
Salt Water Rinse
Gently rinsing the affected area with some salt water can reduce inflammation and wipe out some of the bacteria that’s causing the pain.
Holding a cold compress to your cheek in the area where the toothache is occurring can also help to reduce swelling and relieve some pain. Just be sure not to leave the compress on for more than 10 minutes at a time.