February is all about dental issues. National Children’s Dental Health Month, Pet Dental Health Month, Toothache Day, and National Tooth Fairy Day all fall during February. Today is Toothache Day: a day dedicated to something none of us enjoy. Although a toothache isn’t something to celebrate, our team at TNT Orthodontics would like to use today as an opportunity to educate you about how toothaches form and how you can avoid them. 

Orthodontic hardware slowly moves your teeth into proper alignment over a period of time. As your mouth accommodates these changes, and you become accustomed your new hardware, you may experience some initial discomfort. Don’t worry, this is to be expected. However, the sudden development of a toothache is not normal and will require some attention from either your dentist or orthodontist. 

Aching teeth can be caused by a few things: tooth decay, gum infection, a broken tooth with an exposed inner core, or orthodontic work that needs to be fixed or replaced. Of those possible reasons, tooth decay is the most common source of tooth pain. Tooth decay is often caused by bacteria lingering on your teeth. That bacteria consumes the carbohydrates in the sugary foods you consume and creates acids which eat away at your teeth. Erosion can also occur when you consume acidic foods and drinks. When enamel erodes, your tooth’s dentin is exposed to the heat, cold, and acids in the food and drinks you enjoy each day. Inflammation and infection happen as bacteria enters the inner layers of your teeth. This results in the tissue of your teeth sending pain signals to your brain — it’s time to go to the dentist!! Going to the dentist for treatments not only helps you deal with the pain of a toothache, it’s also an important step in preventing the infection from spreading to other parts of your face and skull. 

No matter how committed you are to your oral care routine, regular dental exams and professional cleanings will always remain a critical component to maintaining healthy teeth. During your dental checkup, your dentist does more than check your teeth. They perform an oral cancer screening and check for signs of tooth decay and gum disease. These conditions are much easier to manage if they are caught in the early stages of development. 

As a way to help with the pain of a toothache, your dentist may recommend an over the counter pain reliever like ibuprofen. If that won’t work for you, there are other methods of pain relief. For example, you can apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek. The cool material will reduce any swelling or inflammation that you may be experiencing.

Even if you brush and floss daily, you’re still liable to miss a bit of plaque hidden in those hard to reach places of your mouth. Plaque hardens into tartar, which is not something that you should try to remove at home. You may cause more damage to your teeth using abrasive toothpastes, scraping, or any other DIY hack a YouTuber is recommending that you use. Hygienists are trained to safely clean hardened dental plaque and any debris trapped in your teeth or braces. Your dental and orthodontic teams are the best source of information about proper oral hygiene practices and inquiries about your dental or orthodontic health concerns.