You may have heard someone say “this toothache is killing me” before. Could it literally be that dangerous?
It is important to recognize that a toothache could be a sign of something more serious. A normal toothache in and of itself cannot kill you, but the underlying issues that caused the pain could possibly be fatal if left untreated.
Find out what could be causing your toothache, discover the dangers of a tooth infection, and see some afflictions that list “toothache” as a symptom.
Why Does My Tooth Hurt?
It is important to understand why your tooth could be hurting. These are reasons for having a toothache that is really about your tooth:
- Decay/Cavities: The “classic” toothache is a simple cavity caused by bacteria accumulating where it shouldn’t be. The cure is usually a filling.
- Gum Disease: When your gums become inflamed, deep “pockets” that trap bacteria can form. When gum disease is left untreated, tooth pain often results. Treatment usually involves a deep cleaning and consistent oral hygiene regimen.
- Cracked Tooth: Sometimes a tooth can break without an underlying reason, but it still involves pain.
- Wisdom Teeth: Your wisdom teeth can cause pain, especially if they become impacted. If you have a toothache towards the back of your mouth, this is a logical reason.
- Abscess/Infection: This is usually the result of one of the previous issues going untreated for a long time. It can cause severe pain and swelling around the tooth.
Delving Into the Dangers of Tooth Infections
An untreated infection has the possibility to become very dangerous. A toothache won’t kill you, but an untreated infection anywhere on your body could. If you have swelling that signifies an abscess, you should see a dentist right away.
They will prescribe an antibiotic to reduce or eliminate the infection. Also, a fever combined with a toothache is reason to at least call your dentist.
Another factor to consider is the close proximity of your teeth to your brain. A tooth infection does not have to travel far to affect your brain. Sadly, a 12-year-old boy in Maryland died a few years ago when that happened to him. Whatever you do, don’t just assume a tooth infection is no big deal.
What Are Some Afflictions with Toothache as a Symptom?
Sometimes, a toothache is not really about your tooth. Here are some issues that can cause it:
- Temporomandibular joint disorder aka “TMJ”: This signifies acute or chronic inflammation of the joint, which connects your mandible to your skull. A toothache is one of many symptoms for TMJ.
- Sinus Trouble: Your sinuses are right above your upper teeth. It is not particularly common, but sinus issues and inflammation can cause tooth pain.
- Heart Disease/Heart Attack: This is the big one, as jaw pain or tooth pain are symptoms. If you have any history of heart or coronary trouble or risk, you should pay extra attention to how your teeth and jaw feel – especially if the toothache is accompanied by light-headedness and/or sweating.
In most cases, a toothache simply means a trip to the dentist for a filling. But, like most things in life, it isn’t always so simple.
About the Author
Dr. James Geer has provided the residents of Tomball with quality dental care since 1977. Well, he briefly retired before his patients talked him into returning to his practice, and Dr. Geer is as dedicated as ever to helping people these days. With advanced training and experience in oral surgery, Dr. Geer is known for performing difficult extractions. For an appointment to treat your toothache or to inquire about any of the other numerous dental services he offers, visit Dr. Geer’s website or call (281) 357-4337.