Don’t let toothache make you as mad as a March Hare
The phrase ‘as mad as a March Hare’ is really very old, and has been around since the sixteenth century. Like the reference to the hare in Alice in Wonderland, it is often used to refer to someone who is behaving irrationally. While people will generally behave in a perfectly sane fashion, no matter the month, this can quickly change with a severe toothache.
Toothache has sometimes been described as the most intense pain that can be felt, so it is little wonder that you may well feel extremely out of sorts, if not a little mad. Unfortunately, all too often patients will delay contacting their dentist in the hope the pain will dissipate, only contacting them when it becomes almost unbearable.
Why is Toothache So Painful?
The pain of a toothache is quite unique, especially as your face, head and teeth are extremely well served by your nervous system and have many neural connections to the pain centres in your brain. This means your teeth are particularly sensitive to any painful stimuli and because they are in your head, it makes it far more difficult to escape these feelings.
Many of us are familiar with the concept of “brain freeze” when chomping down on ice cream a bit too quickly. Even this can be surprisingly painful for someone with sensitive teeth. When a tooth becomes infected, the sensations are amplified, and this is because the infection affects the dental pulp. Normally your dental pulp is nicely protected as it is right in the centre of your tooth. In a healthy tooth, it is surrounded by a layer of dentine which is covered with tough tooth enamel. If your tooth enamel becomes damaged or decayed, bacteria in your mouth will enter the inner part of your tooth, gradually eating through the dentine until they reach the pulp. Your pulp consists of nerves and blood vessels which is why toothache is so unpleasant.
How Is Toothache Treated?
Firstly, Dr. James Cadigan will carefully examine the tooth and may carry out diagnostic tests to discover if it is infected. It’s quite likely you will need a dental x-ray to discover how far the infection has spread and if it has affected the other tissues surrounding your tooth.
Normally, a tooth infection is treated with root canal therapy. There is no need to worry if this is the case because root canal therapy shouldn’t feel any worse than an ordinary filling and it’s a great treatment for getting rid of toothache. Root canal therapy will also save the infected tooth so it’s really a very good treatment. With root canal therapy, the inner part of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to remove bacteria. Afterwards, the tooth can be restored with a dental crown.
If the infection is more significant and has caused a dental abscess, then it might be necessary to remove the tooth, but this will always be the last resort. This is why we always recommend people come to visit us as soon as a tooth begins to feel uncomfortable or painful. There is a far better chance of being able to save the tooth at this stage.
Additionally, a very bad tooth infection can become life-threatening and you should always seek emergency dental care if you develop a fever, facial swelling or feel very unwell.
Whenever we have patients in this situation, we always do our best to see them as quickly as we can.
If you need emergency care, we will move mountains to provide you with urgent treatment, and Chatham Dental Centre is open six days a week. If you’re experiencing discomfort, please request an appointment at Chatham Dental Centre and we’ll get back to you quickly to schedule one.