Learning the language of your teeth
first sign of a cavity, but can also signal
other dental conditions (teeth grinding
at night, a cracked tooth, root exposure
from receding gums, etc.).
Rabie advises people not to “dismiss
fleeting tooth pain from cold temperatures.
Get it checked out.” Tooth pain that
lasts more than five minutes is usually
a sign that something is wrong, and
needs to be checked immediately.
While some tooth pain can be relieved
by home remedies such as warm
saltwater rinse or over-the-counter pain
medications, these steps only mask the
problem, and the pain typically returns.
Delaying care may well lead to a classic
toothache and a full-blown infection
that requires antibiotics and complex
Other oral health problems can also
lead to painful teeth and gums, such as
chipped enamel from a blow to a tooth.
Even a popcorn kernel stuck between
teeth or under the gumline can cause
pain and swelling.
“Don’t wait until you’re in pain to
get dental care,” says Rabie. She sees
an average of two people a day with
dental emergencies, and many of them
have needlessly suffered. “The best
way to prevent pain is by maintaining
good oral health: brush with fluoridated
toothpaste, floss, eat healthy foods and
make regular dental visits. If you wait
until your teeth start hurting, the delay
could end up costing you a lot more
than you expected.”
— Heather Kipling
A toothache. It can be one of the
most painful experiences ever.
The most common cause of tooth pain
is tooth decay. The longer the disease
is left untreated, the worse it can get.
What starts as a small cavity in the
enamel can grow, and may eventually
reach a tooth’s nerve. What could have
been treated with a small filling might
need a large filling or crown, or even a
“If a cavity has started to form, you
may not even know it’s there,” says Dr.
Heidi Rabie, a dentist at the Chumir
Dental Clinic and the interim Chief
for Dental Public Health Clinics with
Alberta Health Services. “You won’t feel
Experiencing sudden pain after being
outside or eating cold foods is often the
Just what your pearly whites are telling you when they hurt