February 12, 2019
A nagging toothache is what brings most people to see their dentist in Colorado Springs. Common ways to treat this problem include crowns, bonding, root canals, or bridgework. Extraction is also an option, although it’s best reserved for when there’s no other choice.
What Causes Toothaches in the First Place?
A number of health conditions can cause tooth pain, including mouth trauma, oral cancer, or simply biting down on something hard. However, most cases stem from the tooth decay process. Here’s how it works:
- Harmful bacteria in your mouth gain a toehold on to your teeth. This is usually caused by plaque and tartar accumulation.
- These microscopic organisms secrete corrosive acid, giving them access to the sensitive pulp inside the tooth.
- Your body resists these invaders by dispatching helpful cells called antibodies to the scene of the infection. This causes inflammation, leading to that all-too-familiar sensation of a throbbing tooth.
Dental Medicine to the Rescue
Fortunately, it’s often possible to save an infected tooth through one of the following methods:
- A crown. A crown is an artificial restoration held in place by dental adhesive. It protects the tooth from further infection and allows the person to eat, speak, and perform other routine tasks as normal.
- Cosmetic bonding. This approach uses a tooth-colored filling material to address dental imperfections such as chips, depressions, or small cavities. In some cases, it can help to arrest the tooth decay process.
- A root canal. The dentist removes the infected tissue from the tooth entirely, swabbing the inside with a special antiseptic solution to prevent reinfection. The dentist then fills the tooth and may add a crown to prevent the problem from coming back.
- Bridgework. Sometimes the best way to treat distressed teeth is with a dental bridge. Bridgework spans the gap left by a missing tooth while protecting the remaining teeth on either side. As with a crown, the bridge is usually held in place by dental adhesive, although sometimes implants are used instead.
Why Not Just Pull the Aching Tooth Instead?
The oldest form of toothache treatment is with an extraction, in which the dentist simply removes the infected tooth altogether. While this may seem like the common-sense solution, in most cases it’s best reserved as a last resort. Here’s why:
- Complications. Many extractions are anything but simple. The dentist may need to use sedative and go deep into the jaw to remove individual tooth fragments. This can be a lengthy and sometimes uncomfortable procedure.
- Lingering effects. Nature intended your teeth and your jawbone to work together. Even a single missing tooth can throw a monkey wrench into the system, causing bone loss and putting the adjoining teeth at risk.
- Aesthetic concerns. A missing tooth can make you reluctant to show off your pearly whites, leading to self-consciousness and social awkwardness.
The Final Word
Only your dentist can recommend a specific course of treatment for your toothache. Make an appointment to see him or her soon. You’ll soon be walking around pain-free and with a smile on your face.
About the Author
Dr. James Orban has been saving distressed teeth for over 40 years. He taught at UCLA’s school of dental medicine for over a decade before returning to Colorado to open his private practice. You can reach his office online or by calling (719) 599-0700.
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