With all of the candy and sweets consumed around (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas) many people also may find themselves treated to a toothache. The good news is that there is a dental specialty dedicated to diagnosing and relieving tooth pain—endodontics.
“While not all toothaches are alike, all tooth pain is treatable,” said Dr. Jason Phan, at Torrance Endodontic Center. “Today’s endodontists use techniques and treatments that are not only effective, but increasingly painless.”
Endodontists complete four years of dental school, plus an additional two or more years of specialized training on treating conditions associated with the inside of the tooth. As a result, they are uniquely qualified to relieve toothache pain.
Here are the four most common causes of toothaches and the solutions endodontists typically recommend:
Problem: Sensitivity to heat or cold. You’re experiencing discomfort for a few moments after tasting hot or cold foods. This generally doesn’t signal anything serious; it may just be a small amount of decay, a loose filling or minimal gum recession that exposes small areas of the root surface.
Solution: Try using a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Also, because brushing sideways wears away exposed root surfaces, brush up and down with a soft brush. If this doesn’t work, see your endodontist. One last thing: If you just had dental work, know that it could have inflamed the pulp, which are the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue inside a tooth, causing temporary sensitivity. Wait two to four weeks, and if the problem continues, see your endodontist.
Problem: Pain when biting. You feel a sharp pain when you bite down on food. This could mean decay, a loose filling, a crack in the tooth or even damage to the pulp tissue inside the tooth.
Solution: See your endodontist. An endodontist will clean out the damaged pulp and fill and seal the remaining space, a treatment commonly known as a root canal. In addition, lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods is usually a sign of pulp damage and may mean a root canal is necessary.
Problem: Sensitivity. You feel constant and severe tooth pain and pressure, your gums are swollen and your tooth is sensitive to the touch. You may have an abscess, a pus pocket in the jawbone caused by an infection inside the tooth.
Solution: In this case, see an endodontist for evaluation and treatment to relieve the pain and to save the tooth. (Dr. Phan, says that if a dentist recommends a tooth extraction or implant, always get an opinion from a specialist in saving your natural teeth—an endodontist.)
Problem: Pressure. You’re experiencing a dull ache and pressure in the upper teeth and jaw. This can be caused by a sinus headache or by grinding your teeth (often in your sleep), a condition also known as bruxism.
Solution: For a sinus headache, see your physician. For bruxism, or pain that is severe and lasts more than several days, see your endodontist for evaluation.
Of course, it’s better to avoid a toothache in the first place. The best way to minimize your chances of experiencing tooth pain is through regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups. But when tooth pain does occur, remember to visit your endodontist.
Jason Phan DDS, is an endodontist and a member of the American Association of Endodontists. Dr. Phan practices in Torrance.