The science behind a toothache

Within the hard structure of our teeth, lies the softest tissue made up of nerves and blood vessels called the dental pulp. The dental pulp is extremely sensitive to changes in its environment, from stimulus like extreme hot and cold beverages, impact from trauma and especially to bacterial infection within the tooth structure, known as dental caries. As we know it, dental caries is the leading cause of dental pain. Read below for some of the most common causes of toothaches!


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What’s causing my toothache?

While the level of pain from a toothache can vary according to its cause, the most common causes of toothaches are:

Dental decay or dental caries

This directly harms the tooth, and sends stimuli to the pulp signalling that there is tooth damage taking place. The pulp does what it can to fight the decay, by constantly creating a thicker wall on its roof to prevent the decay from reaching its soft tissue. If left untreated, the rate of decay can outrun the rate of repair being carried out by the pulp, ultimately leading to a dental infection and the requirement for a root canal treatment.

Recurrent caries

Recurrent caries under an old filling can also cause the exact same phenomenon, so it is always best to have old fillings examined regularly and have them replaced if they are getting discoloured or are too old.

Cracked/fractured teeth

Cracked or fractured teeth also directly involve the pulp, where the crack or fracture could extend extremely close to or even directly within the pulp, leading to extreme pain either constant or stimulated. Ultimately, you may need root canal treatment or even tooth removal if the fracture is far beyond repair!

Gum disease

Gum disease including gingivitis and periodontitis can indirectly cause dental pain, as they involve inflammation and ultimately infection of the supporting tissues of the teeth, including the gums and underlying alveolar (jaw) bone. When the periodontal level reaches, any pressure on the teeth inadvertently induces pain and can make chewing from the affected teeth quite difficult. The infection from the tissues can also travel down within the tooth-gum space and reach the dental nerve entering the root at the base, causing the pulp to become inflamed, infected and thus, requiring root canal treatment along with periodontal treatment! In the worst case scenario, the tooth reaches the point of not being salvageable.

Dental Abscess

A dental abscess forms if a tooth infection penetrates through the surrounding bone and reaches the gum tissue, causing a swelling full of pus. This could occur within 24 hours of a tooth infection if severe, or become a chronic swelling with an open, draining sinus if left untreated for too long. In either case, root canal treatment is absolutely necessary!

Sinus infection

Surprisingly, even a sinus infection can cause toothaches. During sinusitis, there is immense pressure build-up within the sinuses which radiates into the surrounding sinus lining and bones, which also happen to make up the roof of upper maxillary teeth!

Grinding (Bruxism)/Clenching

If you are a patient who constantly grinds and clenches their teeth, it could lead to severe tooth wear and ultimately cause the nerves of your teeth to get exposed, causing severe sensitivity and toothaches. This condition is known as bruxism and requires immediate therapy and grinding appliances to control the habit.

TMJ Disorder (TMJD)

Bruxism not only damages the teeth, it also affects the underlying jaw bones and can damage the periodontal tissues. Furthermore, it can cause immense pressure on the jaw joints, known as the Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) and cause TMJ Disorder (TMJD).


When is it time to visit the dentist?

Toothaches can greatly vary according to their cause. You should schedule an appointment with our dentist if you experience any of the below symptoms.

  • Sharp, shooting pain caused by stimulus
  • Dull aches, pulsating, throbbing pain
  • Continuous pain
  • Spontaneous sharp pain

We also recommend scheduling a consultation even if you have a toothache that seems to go away on its own as it’s most likely that the underlying cause for it is still an active problem.

Treating your toothache

At Wyndham Dental Solutions, we have a specialist team of dentists and dental hygienists to help you get to the bottom of your toothache and bring you immediate solutions for relief from the pain. Some treatments we offer include:

    • Dental fillings

Dental fillings are a common dental treatment that repairs a cavity and addresses tooth damage.

    • Root canal treatment

Root canal treatment is performed to treat an infected or damaged tooth’s pulp. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, it can lead to extreme pain. A root canal aims to remove the infected pulp, clean the inner chamber, and seal the tooth.

    • Periodontal therapy

Periodontal therapy (also known as gum disease treatment) includes various treatments and techniques to address gum disease which occurs due to bacterial infection of the gum and supporting structures of the teeth.

    • Wisdom tooth extraction

When there is not enough space in your mouth for your wisdom tooth to fully erupt, it can become impacted. Causing pain, dental crowding and other complications which often results in the need for wisdom tooth extraction

    • Treatment of TMJD

TMJD treatment can vary depending on your condition and the specific symptoms experienced such as jaw pain, headaches and difficulty opening/closing your mouth. The choice of treatment will also depend on these. It’s vital to consult with one of our dentists to determine the most suitable plan for you.

    • Appliances to counter bruxism

Bruxism can take a toll on your health and overall quality of life, gradually damaging your teeth and causing painful sensitivity. But with the right appliances, you can protect your teeth.


Why Wyndham Dental?

Whatever you need, we are there to find a solution and have you leave our clinic pain-free and smiling! At our clinic in Werribee we have only experienced dental professionals and incredibly friendly staff ready to help your entire family with their dental concerns and goals. Utilising years of experience and advanced technology to help you, your smile couldn’t be in safer hands at Wyndham Dental. Schedule your consultation with us today!

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