How to Tell the Difference Between a Toothache and an Abscessed Tooth

Posted on: 16 February 2016

When a tooth begins to hurt, it may just be a basic toothache that will go away over time, or it could be an abscessed tooth. A basic toothache may not require any dental work, but an abscessed tooth will, and that is why it is important to understand the difference. Here are several things you should know about toothaches and abscessed teeth.

Things that cause toothaches and abscessed teeth

A toothache can be characterized by pain in a particular tooth or in several teeth. This is a problem that can occur from grinding your teeth, trauma to your teeth, TMJ, or sinus issues. When you get a toothache for one of these reasons, you may also experience pain in your face, jaw, ears, or head, but you are not likely to have other symptoms.

An abscessed tooth occurs when there is an infection in the roots of a particular tooth. This can cause pain in your mouth, face, and ears as well, but it can also lead to other symptoms:

  • Throbbing pain in your tooth that will not go away
  • Fever
  • Bad taste in your mouth or bad breath
  • Open sore near the tooth that hurts
  • Red, swollen gums

If you believe the pain you are feeling is due to an abscessed tooth, you should seek immediate help from a dentist for this problem.

Treatment options

Regular toothaches do not usually require treatment from a dentist, unless they are persistent and often. If you have a regular toothache, you can take over-the-counter painkillers to treat the pain. This will typically help if the pain is from a basic toothache. When a tooth is abscessed, you will need further treatment, and this may include the following options:

  1. Take antibiotics – An abscessed tooth is a sign of infection, and antibiotics may be the only way to put a stop to the infection. If you fail to treat the infection, it could spread throughout your body.
  2. Drain the pus – When you see a dentist, he may create a small hole in the tooth to allow the pus to drain from the area. This will help relieve the pain you are feeling and may help reduce the swelling.
  3. Perform a root canal – When tooth roots are infected, the tooth will most likely need a root canal procedure.

When a tooth is abscessed, you will need to visit a dentist. If your regular dentist is not open, you can visit an emergency care dentist in your area, such as Family Dentistry Of Brick, PA.