Some people take a very lax attitude toward dental care. They may brush and floss, but otherwise they tend to ignore their teeth and think that as long as there’s no pain, there’s no reason to worry. Then when a toothache occurs, they just want to get the pain in that tooth fixed. This may seem a logical response, but it’s actually a recipe for disaster, and if that’s your attitude toward your teeth, we don’t want to play a role in their slow destruction.
The Cause of a Toothache May Not Be in the Tooth
If you just want to fix a tooth that’s been damaged by decay, wear, or injury, you may not be treating the real problem. There are many reasons why damage to your tooth may just be a symptom of more serious problems.
One of the most common causes of toothache is decay in that tooth. Although the decay may be in that tooth, the problem may actually be elsewhere. If, for example, you have crooked teeth, it can be harder to get your teeth clean. There may be certain places where you may not be able to clean very well, which encourages the growth of bacteria there, resulting in tooth decay. It can also lead to gum disease and lost teeth.
Another potential cause of damage to your tooth is excessive wear. If your teeth aren’t fitting together properly, the surfaces of your teeth may show uneven wear, including excessive wear in certain spots. Sometimes, there may be a combination of wear and decay–uneven wear creates a pit that acts as a safe haven for bacteria.
Excessive wear may also precede broken teeth. Sometimes excessive force can lead to cracking that you may not see until the tooth breaks open. Even if there’s some immediate trauma that causes the broken tooth, your tooth may have been set up to fail by a bad bite.
Finally, the tooth itself may be only part of the cause. If you have more than one type of metal filling, you may experience what is known as a galvanic current–electricity in your mouth produced the same way batteries produce a charge–which can lead to discomfort.
Beyond Responding to a Toothache
Just responding to a toothache leaves in place the conditions that led to the problem and will likely lead to other problems. If you’re having trouble cleaning your teeth, you will have more decay in the future, and it may result in the loss of one or more teeth.
If one tooth is suffering excessive wear or damage, you can be sure that others are, too, or soon will be. Unless we identify bite problems, including TMJ, the damage will continue, and may even accelerate.
The only way to get rid of galvanic currents is to get rid of metal fillings. If we leave metal fillings in place, they will continue to produce galvanic currents, not only with each other, but when a metal fork touches your tongue.
If you are just looking for a dentist will drill and fill (and drill and fill again and again until it’s time for a dental implant), then we’re not the right dentist for you. But if you’re looking for a dentist who is focused on the health of your entire mouth and wants to prevent future injury, then call