Are Toothaches Always Serious?

girl with serious toothacheMost of us, at some point in our lives, have had to contend with a sore or aching tooth. Sometimes, a little pain-relieving cream can offer a temporary reprieve, but in many cases, the aching won’t go away without a visit to the dentist. In fact, whatever’s causing your tooth to hurt will likely grow worse as time goes by, causing a minor nuisance to mature into a serious toothache, and possibly more. Whether it’s caused by a crack in your tooth, a developing infection (tooth decay), or gum disease that exposes your teeth’s roots, a toothache is, in nearly every case, a potentially serious issue.

Why Your Tooth Hurts

When they’re strong and healthy, your teeth should feel little more than the pressures of biting, chewing, and brushing and flossing your teeth. That’s because the outer layer that surrounds them, known as tooth enamel, is comprised almost entirely of mineral crystals (not living tissue). The nerves that sense pain and irritation are at the center of your tooth, in a chamber called the pulp. The tooth’s nerves and other soft tissues are connected to the roots, and the pulp chamber is nestled in a dense mass of porous, bone-like dentin (the main body of the tooth). When a toothache develops, it’s usually because the pulp is exposed, either due to a crack or a cavity, or the connected roots are exposed when diseased gums recede.

How to Treat a Toothache

If you visit Dr. Hussong as soon as you notice that your tooth is sensitive, the issue may be reversed, and your toothache cured, before it becomes a serious concern. If a progressive issue like tooth decay are gum disease is already fully developed, then treatment depends on the nature of the problem. For instance, a cavity might require a dental filling, and perhaps a dental crown, to remove the infection and restore the tooth’s strength and appearance. If gum disease is present, Dr. Hussong may recommend a deep periodontal cleaning (scaling and root planing), or he may advise you to seek a specialized periodontist, depending on the severity of your condition.


Dr. Ryan Hussong is a dedicated restorative, family, and cosmetic dentist who is passionate about helping patients create and maintain beautiful, healthy smiles. To schedule a consultation with us, call the Cornerstone Dental office today at (515) 984-6001. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Polk City, Ankeny, Grimes, Ames, Johnston, Urbandale, and Des Moines.