Tooth pain has been the scourge of man since the birth of our species. First, we question why did the creator create nerves in teeth? No, not to create the need for a dentist! Yet, nerves are necessary for nourishment to keep teeth vital and alive! Along with nerves, blood vessels bring necessary nourishment to teeth.
The origin of dental pain most times is the death or process of dying nerves, again, mostly caused by bacterial acidic end products of the digestive process “burning holes” (cavities) through the hardened outside structure of teeth called the enamel. Should one ignore the achy feeling particularly after eating sweets or cold drinks, the decaying process continues and eventually reaches the heart of the teeth called the pulp or nerves. Continuance of avoiding this annoying pain can lead to nerve death. Surprisingly, the toothache disappears and if you continue to ignore the feeling of discomfort or pain, at this stage an abscess begins to form. If there is no professional intervention swelling, pain, cellulites, and even death can occur as the infection can spread compromising the health of the individual.
An easy fix is the repair of the tooth by early detection via probing and/or x-ray. The repair is usually completed with local anesthetic and is painless. Nerve medication, is sometimes necessary to protect the pulp underneath the filling. Many types of filling materials are available today.* Should the early repair not be completed, eventually the pulp or nerve will create pain or abscess. Antibiotics may be necessary to control the infection process. Root Canal Therapy can be instituted and the tooth “saved” from further pain.*
PERIODONTAL OR GUM DISEASE
Tooth pain can also be caused by the breakdown of the tooth supporting structure, i.e. the bone and gingival (gum). Again, early detection is the key. Genetic predisposition to gum disease has been proven, yet there is no cure, but a controlled series of treatments may be instituted to maintain periodontal health and is recommended. Over 80 percent of the human species has some form of periodontal disease. Checking for these conditions should be performed at least two times yearly.
Periodontal (gum) problems can be treated conservatively by the dentist using professional debridgement (cleaning and scaling) and removal of diseased gum tissues completed with local anesthetic. In the severest of conditions, periodontal laser treatment is the newest available modality to arrest gum and bone recession.*
Oral cancer may develop in the following areas – lips, oral cavity, and throat. Known contributory habits are tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, human papilloma virus, and excessive exposure to the sun, especially to the lips. There is a higher prevalence in males than females. Early detection is the key. Pain can sometimes occur but usually is not present in the early stages of oral cancer. Cancer examination by the dentists is recommended as part of the completed oral exam completed twice yearly.
TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
The common term for the jaw joint is TMJ (temporomandibular joint). Pain in this joint is commonly referred to as Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD). Pain in the join can be mild to excruciating. Some causes of TMD are injury to the jaw by: A. car accident or whiplash; B. dislocation of the disk in the joint; C. arthritis; D. clenching or grinding teeth, and; E. stress, (not necessarily in the above order). Common symptoms are: 1. pain in the face, jaw joint area, neck and or shoulders; 2. Limitations in the jaw opening; 3. Clicking or popping in the ear or the joint; and 4. Difficulty in chewing and eating may occur on either side. Sometimes dizziness or headache may be present.
*To be covered in future articles.
For more information, please refer to future articles, or contact Dr. Tom Bloom at his office at 845-855-3807. Dr. Tom Bloom practices general dentistry for the family and is available at 217 Old Route 22, Pawling, NY. Home of Happy Teeth (behind Rooney Motors). Dr Bloom will become a regular contributor to PPR.
An Educational Series by Dr. Tom
My educational series is geared to the general public as an informative and concise guide in promoting proper dental care specifically, and promoting the overall general health of us all.