All too often, we see patients that have had some sensitivity and ignore it until the tooth pain keeps them from sleeping or functioning in their daily life. Tooth pain can mean several things such as deep cavity, a cracked tooth, clenching or grinding, periodontal disease, a sinus infection, and impacted wisdom teeth. Each source of tooth pain has a different treatment to correct the discomfort. The focus of this posting is the progression of decay, when it should be treated, and the more extensive treatment required to save the tooth if it is allowed to progress.
Tooth Ache caused by a Cavity:
Generally patients do not realize that the initial onset of tooth decay is a painless, chalky white spot. Depending on a person’s oral hygiene habits this spot can be maintained and sometimes reversed. Once the cavity spreads to the dentin the tooth decay is best treated by removing the infected tooth structure and replaced with a filling.If left untreated the tooth decay will continue to spread and often create an annoying sensitivity to cold, sweets and sometimes pressure. At this point the pulp in your tooth is inflamed from the irritation of the bacteria getting close to the pulp. Most of the time, the symptoms can be resolved by removing the tooth decay and filling the tooth. The problem with a cavity this size is the tooth is considerably weakened by the amount of infected tooth that needs to be removed. The point that too many people address the tooth pain is when the cavity reaches the pulp and there is severe sensitivity to cold or heat that lingers, pain to pressure and tapping. The lingering sensitivity to hot or cold indicates to us that your pulp is irreversibly inflamed or necrotic (dead). At this point the tooth needs all tooth decay removed an root canal therapy to clean out infected tissue and to seal the canals from the rest of the body to treat the tooth pain.
After the symptoms are treated we then look to restoring the tooth which commonly involves building up lost structure and placement of a crown. Every case has its own special qualities about them and it is always recommended to save what you can, but on occasion you may be faced with having to lose the tooth.