Archive for tooth pain

Tooth pain!

Dear Doctor has plenty of useful information. Here is an article about tooth pain — the different types of pain, possible causes, and treatments. These are the kinds of questions Dr. Conner asks you when she’s evaluating whether or not you need a root canal treatment. Is it sharp, shooting tooth pain or more of a dull ache or throbbing. Is it sensitive to hot or cold? Does it linger or go away? Do you have pain when you bite down?

tooth painOne thing I’ve learned working in an endodontics practice — it doesn’t get better on it’s own! It only gets worse (and the longer you wait, the more expensive the treatment options become). If you’re having tooth pain, go see your dentist! I know people have a lot of anxiety about going to the dentist (I’m one of them!), but there’s medication for that. Ask your dentist for an anxiolytic…it makes the whole experience virtually stress-free.

Something I see most days is someone whose pain finally was severe enough to overcome their anxiety and they ended up in our office for root canal treatment. Unfortunately, they’re in too much pain to get numb! Then we need several days to get the pain under control enough to actually treat the tooth. So, don’t wait, go to your dentist when the pain is noticeable and before it’s unbearable (and you need a root canal…or worse, have to pull the tooth).

Smile Power Day

smile power day

If you have a toothache and can’t smile, go to your dentist!

If you can smile, share it with everyone. Here’s one of my favorite quotes: “Smile. It makes people wonder what you’ve been up to.”

What to expect from a root canal treatment

A root canal treatment is the most feared dental procedure and the butt of many a joke. But, the reality is, it should just be a long, boring filling. Endodontists have great numbing stuff to make sure you don’t feel anything and they can prescribe anxiolytics so you can relax during the procedure. And, the rule for Dr. Conner is if it hurts, she stops.

Zeiss dental microscope Dr. Conner uses a microscope and rubber dam for the procedure. The microscope lets her see into your canals (this is also useful for seeing cracks inside your tooth to determine if your tooth is restorable). The rubber dam ensures bacteria in your mouth do not contaminate the tooth once she disinfects it. That does mean your mouth will be covered so you will need to be able to breathe through your nose during the procedure.

We use digital radiographs (x-rays) that minimize your exposure to radiation. The amount of exposure is similar to your x-ray sensors

The worst pain is what people are feeling that drives them to an endodontist in the first place, not the actual root canal treatment. The good news is, once that nerve is gone the pain goes away, too. The bad news is if it took a while to get that painful, it might take a few days for everything to calm down. Other than that, you might be a little sore just because someone was working in your mouth. Some ibuprofen or Tylenol should take care of any discomfort from the procedure (your dentist or endodontist will tell you what to take).


Teeth bleaching

smileIt seemed like such a good idea at the time… While a bright smile is great, take care when bleaching your teeth. It could make them extremely sensitive. We’ve seen more than a few patients who had such severe sensitivity their dentist thought they might even need a root canal. So, before bleaching, talk to your dental hygienist or dentist. They’ll probably advise you to start slowly to see what how it will effect your teeth.

Do I Really Need A Root Canal?!

infectionWhile there are other posts that get into the causes and reasons for needing a root canal treatment, here I want to address a common misconception. When someone is in excruciating pain, they understand the need for a root canal treatment. But, if they have just a little discomfort or no pain at all, they think they can put it off. Not true!

Whatever the cause, you need a root canal because there’s an infection in your tooth. Infections are bad. You may not even notice it, but your body does. It’s expending energy trying to deal with that infection.

Eventually, one of two things will happen (or both). One, it will stay in your tooth and cause excruciating pain. The bacteria just keep multiplying but there’s no where to go. The pressure just keeps building until you get it treated.

Second, it goes outside the tooth. Initially, it will erode the bone. That’s typically what your dentist sees that prompts them to evaluate the need for a root canal treatment. You may also have pain and swelling in the gums. It could also get into your bloodstream and become a much more serious issue than a painful tooth.

Either way, you want to take care of that infection. And, since your nerve and blood vessels are either dead or dying, they can’t deliver an oral antibiotic inside the tooth. That leaves root canal treatment as your best way to get rid of the infection (the alternative is extracting the tooth).

But, you say, I took an antibiotic and I feel better. That’s because it took care of the infection outside your tooth. The cause of the infection remains which means it will be back!

Before your root canal consult

Before you visit an endodontist for a possible root canal treatment, a few things would help in the diagnosis and treatment.

First, do not take any pain medications (aspirin, Ibuprofen, Advil, etc.) before your exam appointment. If you mask your symptoms, the doctor may not be able to isolate which tooth is causing the problems. Antibiotics can do this as well so timing of the exam with taking antibiotics is important.

Second, have a list of the medications you are taking. You don’t want those ugly adverse drug interactions happening.

man relaxing in chairFinally, if you are anxious, let the doctor know. There is no need to stress over this. While your mind may know it’s just like a long, boring filling, you can still be emotionally stressed. That can make it difficult to get numb. And, numbing is a good thing. So, your doctor can prescribe an anxiolytic. Chill….

Tooth pain only gets worse

woman wtih toothacheOne of the most common things I see in our Durham Endodontics practice is someone who has had aching or slight tooth pain for months (sometimes years). Then, presto, they are in excruciating pain and in need of emergency root canal treatment (it really can go from a pain level 2 to a 10 in just hours). Fortunately, for our patients, we keep time for emergency appointments every day.

However, one common problem — you’re in too much pain for the anesthetic to work. So, first we need to get the pain under control.

My advice is…don’t wait. Tooth pain only gets worse. Tooth decay or a nerve that is dying does not spontaneously heal itself. So, go to your dentist at the early stage of a toothache. Maybe, you won’t even need a root canal treatment. If you wait, at least we have those emergency appointments.