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Not all tooth pain is the same: Here’s what you need to know

Sensitive to cold? Sore jaw? Different issues create unique symptoms
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Dr. Chris Goudy, Owner of Fine Dentistry in Sidney.

Tooth pain got you down? Debating if you should wait it out or book an appointment? Not all tooth pain is created equal, says Dr. Chris Goudy, owner of Fine Dentistry in Sidney.

So when should you book an appointment right away and when is it okay to wait?

“Most of the time tooth pain shouldn’t be ignored,” Goudy says. “But occasionally it can be okay to wait and see if the pain improves on its own.”

Knowing when to seek help for tooth discomfort depends on the type of pain and how it occurs, Goudy says.

  • Pain that occurs with biting pressure on a single tooth: This type of pain can indicate infection or a cracked tooth, Goudy says. Whether it’s sharp or dull, you should be treated as soon as possible.
  • Pain that lingers over 10 seconds after eating or drinking something cold or hot, like ice water or coffee: This can indicate the nerve of a tooth is injured and dying, and requires assessment.
  • Increasing sensitivity to temperatures or sweets that lingers for less than 10 seconds: Sensitivity or pain that does NOT last longer than 10 seconds is one of the rare situations when waiting can be okay, Goudy says. It can indicate a growing cavity or a failing filling but often this is a temporary sensitivity due to a change in diet and hygiene. It can also occur during an increase in clenching and grinding (often at night).

“If it’s been awhile since your last check-up, it’s best to have it checked,” Goudy says. “If you’ve kept up with regular appointments, it’s okay to wait but if the sensitivity lasts longer than two-weeks or gets worse, it’s time to book an appointment.”

Signs of clenching or grinding and how to prevent it

If you’ve been told by someone that you make noise with your teeth when sleeping or you wake up with sore teeth, jaw, headaches or tension in your cheeks or temples, this can indicate excessive clenching or grinding at night, Goudy says.

Grinding and clenching can be treated with a custom-fitted protective night guard you wear over your teeth while sleeping.

“It’s important to remember that if you’re experiencing tooth pain, you’re often already in need of more serious dental procedures,” Goudy says. “Prevention is key. Brushing with a fluoride paste, flossing and regular cleanings can prevent many issues from occurring in the first place.”

Find Fine Dentistry on Fifth Street, in the heart of downtown Sidney. Call 250-656-7553 to book an appointment today or learn more online here and on Facebook.

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