Dental Care for Toothaches


Many people think that toothaches are only caused by areas of decay, but actually, dental pain can occur for a wide variety of different reasons. There are also different types of dental pain, ranging from persistent, dull throbbing pain, to a sharp pain that makes it impossible to eat or drink. The type of dental pain that you experience will vary depending on the cause of your underlying toothache. 


Here are some of the most common causes of dental pain and the treatment that is offered to resolve them.





Unsurprisingly, dental pain does occur as a result of decay. Decay develops when we aren’t cleaning the bacteria and food particles from our teeth effectively enough. This is because when these interact, they produce acids that are strong enough to eat through the layers of our teeth, exposing the more sensitive inner layers which lead to sensitivity and pain.  Decay usually appears as a dark spot anywhere on the tooth. 


Treatment for decay usually involves removing all traces of the decay and then covering the tooth with a restoration, such as a filling or crown. Your dentist will be able to tell if you have decay fairly easily, although if it occurs below the gumline you may need an x-ray to confirm its location. 


Lost/Damaged Dental Restoration


If you have previously had decay or damage to your teeth, you may have been given a restoration to cover the affected area and prevent it from being negatively affected any further. The most common restorations include fillings, crowns, inlays, and onlays. If there is any damage to your dental restoration, it may no longer cover your tooth as effectively and this could lead to pain and even further damage or infection. Alternatively, it's not impossible for a restoration to come out, which again opens the tooth up and causes sensitivity, pain, and other problems. 


If you suspect that you have a damaged, loose or lost dental restoration, your dentist will be able to confirm this and organize a replacement, which should resolve your toothache. 


Dental Abscess


A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that can form in a part of the tooth, gum or even bone as a result of a bacterial infection. They are usually very painful, but not always. The pain from a dental abscess often comes on suddenly and gradually gets worse. It may also spread to your eye, jaw, and neck on the same side as the affected tooth or gum. Some patients also experience redness and swelling on that side of their face. 


Dental abscesses are treated by removing the source of the infection and draining away the pus. To do this, your dentist may recommend one of three options, depending on the severity of the infection:

  • Incision and drainage. This is where a cut is made into the gum to drain the abscess. Further treatment may be needed at a later date.

  • Root canal treatment, which is a procedure to remove the abscess from the root of your tooth, before filling and sealing it so reinfection can occur. 

  • Extraction of the infected tooth. This is always a last resort. 


Antibiotics are not usually prescribed for dental abscesses as they are largely ineffective, but they may be given if your infection spreads or is very severe. 


Gum Disease


While gum infections don’t cause pain inside the teeth, they can cause discomfort in the gums that are often mistaken for dental pain. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is one of the most common oral health problems and occurs when plaque that develops on the teeth as a result of poor dental hygiene spreads onto the gums, causing inflammation and infection. Gum disease is a progressive condition, so while the symptoms (which include red, swollen and bleeding gums) may seem mild and easy to ignore in the early stages, if left, it can lead to more debilitating symptoms include gum recession, jaw bone loss, and tooth loss, as well as dental pain. 


Wisdom Teeth Eruption


Our wisdom teeth are the last to arrive, often not coming through until we are in our late teens or early twenties. This often means that there isn’t enough space for them to come through properly, and this creates a range of dental problems such as inflammation, infection, impaction, and dental pain. If you experience wisdom teeth problems, it is highly likely that your dentist will recommend on their removal as this is the best way to alleviate the effects that they are having and prevent future issues.




If you are experiencing a toothache, schedule an appointment with our dental team today who will be happy to help you in Irvine, CA relieving your pain and treating its underlying cause. 

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