When a Toothache Might Be Something Urgent

Posted on: 7 December 2016

If you visit your dentist regularly, you may put off getting a toothache or other such problem checked out, assuming it's not urgent and can wait until your next appointment. However, this can be a mistake, depending on the reason for the toothache in the first place. While not all problems with your teeth and mouth are outright emergencies, note when it can be good to visit a dental clinic as soon as you can get an appointment and have that toothache checked.

1. If you notice cracking or erosion on the tooth

If your toothache is accompanied by cracks in the tooth or if you notice erosion on the top of the tooth, the pain usually means that nerves are now exposed through that cracking, or the cracks have gotten so deep that the tooth may not be staying in place. If the tooth moves at all, this can put pressure on those nerves and be causing a dull or even a sharp pain, even if you don't notice this movement. Don't assume you'll just have your cavity filled at your next appointment, but when there is pain with the cavity, have it taken care of as soon as possible so it doesn't get any worse and your dentist needs to do more work to fill those cracks and damage.

2. The pain radiates up and down the neck

If the pain of your tooth radiates up and down the neck, if you have an accompanying headache, or you notice stiffness in your shoulders at the same time, this might signal nerve damage or an infection that is somewhat large and affecting your entire upper body. You may have lockjaw or tetanus or another condition that is somewhat serious and should get medication to treat it as soon as possible.

3. You've been injured

If you smack your mouth on the car's dashboard during an accident or have fallen, been in a fight, or walked into a door, or otherwise injured your mouth and the toothache won't subside after a reasonable time, you want to visit a dental clinic as soon as possible. You may assume that you're fine if the tooth itself isn't chipped, but note that you may have chipped a bone in the jaw or may have a hairline fracture of the jaw, and the pain radiates to the tooth itself. Along with checking your teeth for damage, it's good to have the jaw x-rayed and checked thoroughly when pain from an impact won't subside.