Hi, Dr James here, and I’m one of the Principal Dentists at Elevate Dental here in Melbourne.
One of our regular patients, Olivia, paid us a visit in our clinic at Richmond last week. She’s a mum of two lovely daughters who usually comes to see us for routine check-ups and cleanings. This time, she had come in alone with a toothache and she told me, “I actually thought if I ignore it, it would just go away.”
This is such a common dental misconception. So, I thought I’d share with you what happens if you ignore a toothache. Will it naturally go away? What could be its causes and how could it be treated?
Toothaches are considered one of the worst types of pain a human body can experience. What is the reason for this? Over 30 to 40% of the nerves responsible for sensory feeling and motor control are located in the mouth and facial region. The mouth is, therefore, one of the most sensitive parts of the body. There is often an immediate and more acute response in this region than in other parts of the body.
So which type of toothaches will go away? Well we need to look at the cause of the toothache. Most dental conditions affecting the teeth, gums, and jaw may be present and diagnosed at an early level where it is still completely painless yet still require treatment.
Even in this early stage, if left untreated, the condition will continue to worsen over time. This applies to issues such as gum disease, dental decay, cracked and worn teeth, broken fillings, and underlying clenching or grinding habits. By the time it has intensified to a toothache, this generally means that it is a much bigger problem. There is now an infection or for clenching conditions, that it’s now severe. Unfortunately, these do not self-resolve.
Firstly, the cause of the problem that was there when it was painless is still there now when there’s a toothache. Secondly, the treatment now becomes much more involved. If an infection is left untreated, this pus can spread not just to the surrounding gums, which in itself is already excruciating, but if it spreads through the jawbone to the surrounding facial spaces in the head and neck region, this may require hospitalisation as some cases can actually be life-threatening. Toothaches related to clenching or grinding issues can lead to cracked teeth, loss of these teeth, head, neck and jaw aches, as well as difficulty in eating and sleeping.
If you have a toothache, please do not leave it untreated. Teeth that are causing you pain should immediately be examined by a professional to rule out some more serious causes.
Here at Elevate Dental, we offer same-day appointments and we’d be happy to go through your treatment options and give you advice on how to fix your teeth. We’re conveniently located at both Hawthorn and Richmond with free on-site parking.
Note: All content and media on the Elevate Dental website and social media channels are created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.