Toothache: Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists Get You Out of Pain


Author: Lane Anderson, DDS

Do You have a TOOTHACHE??

It is likely that either yourself, or a family member has experienced a toothache in their lifetime. That’s why your Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists want to talk about getting you OUT of pain in this blog article! For many, the words “toothache” and “pain” are synonymous.  A toothache is a painful sensation in or around a tooth. It is typically caused by irritation or damage to the nerves within the tooth or the surrounding tissues. As one might expect, the causes of a toothache are quite numerous, with the most common causes being cavities, dental abscesses, gum infections, direct trauma to a tooth, teeth grinding or clenching, and even sinus infections.

Many times, the pain from a toothache strikes at the most inopportune times. That’s why we’re here for you. Our Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists are uniquely equipped to handle dental emergencies. With multiple highly trained dentists and multiple locations, we are able to get you taken care of in a time-efficient manner. Our doctors prioritize emergency care and have all built time into their schedules to accommodate emergency patients. We are also well connected with a wide network of highly-skilled dental specialists that ensure even the most complex toothaches are resolved as quickly as possible.

Related Article: Available Now: Emergency Dental Kansas City and Independence

Let’s discuss the most common causes of Dental Emergencies:

Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists Treat Cavities 

Cavities, also known as dental caries or tooth decay, are primarily caused by a combination of factors, including the following:

  • Oral Bacteria: The mouth naturally contains various types of bacteria, some are beneficial, while others can be harmful. Harmful bacteria metabolize sugars and carbohydrates in the diet, producing acids as byproducts. These acids can erode the tooth’s enamel, leading to cavities.
  • Diet: Consuming sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods and beverages can contribute to cavity formation. Bacteria feed on the sugars and starches left on the teeth, producing acids that weaken the enamel over time.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate brushing and flossing can allow food particles and plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) to accumulate on the teeth. Over time, this can lead to the development of cavities.
  • Acidic Foods and Drinks: Acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, soda, and certain juices, can erode tooth enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to cavities.
  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia): Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by washing away food particles, neutralizing acids, and providing minerals that help remineralize the teeth. Conditions that reduce saliva flow, such as medication side effects or medical conditions, can increase the risk of cavities.
  • Tooth Anatomy: Some people may have deeper grooves and pits in their teeth, making it easier for plaque and food particles to accumulate and for cavities to form.
  • Age: Children and older adults are at higher risk for cavities. In children, this is often due to a diet high in sugary foods and less effective oral hygiene practices. In older adults, factors such as reduced saliva flow, gum recession, and medication use can contribute to a higher risk.
  • Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smoking and using tobacco products can harm oral health and increase the risk of cavities, among other dental issues.
  • Lack of Dental Care: Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential for detecting and preventing cavities. Without professional care, dental issues may go undetected and untreated, increasing the risk of cavities.

Cavities can vary in size and severity. Early-stage cavities may be limited to the enamel and can often be reversed through remineralization with fluoride. However, if left untreated, cavities can progress to deeper layers of the tooth, leading to pain, infection, and the need for more extensive dental treatments like fillings, root canals, or crowns. Practicing good oral hygiene, maintaining a balanced diet, and attending regular dental check-ups are key steps in preventing cavities.

Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists Treat Dental Abscesses

Dental abscesses are painful, pus-filled infections that develop in or around the teeth or gums. They are typically caused by bacterial infections. The most common causes of dental abscesses include:

  • Tooth Decay: Dental caries, or cavities, are the result of bacteria in the mouth metabolizing sugars and producing acids that erode tooth enamel. If left untreated, tooth decay can progress deeper into the tooth, reaching the pulp (the innermost part of the tooth) and leading to an infection. This infection can spread to the surrounding tissues, causing an abscess.
  • Gum Infections: Periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis and periodontitis, can cause infection and inflammation of the gums. In severe cases, these infections can progress and form an abscess.
  • Trauma or Injury: Physical injury to a tooth, such as a chip, crack, or a severe impact, can damage the tooth’s protective enamel and expose the inner pulp. Bacteria can enter through these openings and lead to infection and abscess formation.
  • Dental Procedures: Certain dental treatments or procedures, such as root canals or tooth extractions, may occasionally lead to complications, including abscess formation. These cases are relatively rare and often result from inadequate infection control or improper aftercare.
  • Compromised Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to infections, including dental abscesses.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate oral hygiene practices can allow plaque and food particles to accumulate on the teeth and gums. This creates an environment conducive to bacterial growth and infection, increasing the risk of abscess formation.
  • Foreign Objects: Sometimes, foreign objects like food particles or toothbrush bristle fragments can become lodged between the teeth or gums, leading to irritation and infection.
  • Malnutrition: A diet lacking essential nutrients can weaken the immune system and contribute to poor oral health, making individuals more vulnerable to infections and abscesses.

There are two primary types of dental abscesses:

  1. Periapical Abscess: This type of abscess forms at the tip of the tooth’s root and is usually caused by advanced tooth decay or dental trauma.
  2. Periodontal Abscess: Periodontal abscesses develop in the gums and are often associated with periodontal disease. These can result from the spread of infection from a nearby tooth or from foreign objects becoming trapped in the gums.

Dental abscesses can be extremely painful and require prompt treatment by a dentist to drain the infection, remove the source of the problem (e.g., by filling a cavity or addressing gum disease), and provide appropriate antibiotic therapy. Untreated dental abscesses can lead to serious complications, such as the spread of infection to other parts of the body, jawbone damage, and tooth loss. If you suspect you have a dental abscess or are experiencing severe dental pain, it’s essential to seek dental care as soon as possible.

Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists Treat Gum Infections

Gum infections, also known as gum disease or periodontal disease, can develop due to a combination of factors, primarily involving bacteria and inflammation. The key causes of gum infections include:

  • Bacterial Plaque: The primary cause of gum infections is bacterial plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums. Plaque contains various types of bacteria, some of which are harmless, while others are harmful. When plaque is not effectively removed through proper oral hygiene practices, harmful bacteria can thrive, leading to gum disease.
  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Inadequate brushing and flossing allow bacterial plaque to accumulate on the teeth and gums. Over time, plaque can harden into tartar (dental calculus), which is more difficult to remove and can exacerbate gum problems.
  • Smoking and Tobacco Use: Smoking and using tobacco products increase the risk of gum disease. These substances can reduce blood flow to the gums and hinder the body’s ability to fight off infections.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations in women, such as those during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, can make the gums more susceptible to infection and inflammation.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, can affect the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels and increase the risk of gum disease. Additionally, conditions that compromise the immune system can make individuals more susceptible to infections, including gum infections.
  • Medications: Some medications, especially those that reduce saliva flow (like antihistamines or certain antidepressants), can contribute to dry mouth, which can increase the risk of gum disease.
  • Genetics: Genetic factors may play a role in an individual’s susceptibility to gum disease. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to the condition.
  • Poor Nutrition: A diet lacking essential nutrients can weaken the immune system and impact oral health, increasing the risk of gum infections.
  • Stress: Chronic stress can weaken the body’s immune response, making it more challenging to fight off infections, including those that affect the gums.
  • Age: The risk of gum disease tends to increase with age. Seniors are more susceptible to the condition, especially if they have underlying health issues or take multiple medications.
  • Misaligned Teeth or Dental Appliances: Teeth that are crowded or misaligned can make it more difficult to clean between them, leading to plaque buildup and a higher risk of gum disease. Similarly, dental appliances like braces or bridges may require extra care to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Gum infections typically progress through stages, starting with gingivitis, which is characterized by redness, swelling, and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe forms of gum disease, such as periodontitis, which can result in gum recession, tooth mobility, and even tooth loss. Timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment are essential for managing and preventing gum infections. Good oral hygiene practices, regular dental check-ups, and professional cleanings are key steps in maintaining healthy gums.

Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists Treat Dental Trauma 

Tooth trauma, also known as dental trauma, occurs when a tooth experiences physical injury or damage. There are several common causes of tooth trauma:

  • Accidents and Injuries: Accidental falls, car accidents, sports injuries, and other types of physical trauma to the face and mouth can lead to tooth damage. Impact to the teeth, jaw, or face can cause chips, cracks, fractures, or dislodgment of teeth.
  • Sports Injuries: Contact sports, such as football, hockey, basketball, and martial arts, increase the risk of tooth trauma. Without appropriate protective gear like mouth guards, athletes are more susceptible to injuries.
  • Biting or Chewing Hard Objects: Biting or chewing on hard objects like ice, popcorn kernels, or non-food items can cause tooth damage.
  • Tooth Decay: Untreated tooth decay can weaken the tooth structure, making it more susceptible to trauma. When a tooth has extensive decay and is structurally compromised, it may be more likely to fracture upon impact.
  • Orthodontic Appliances: Orthodontic braces, wires, or other dental appliances can sometimes cause trauma within the mouth, especially if there’s a direct blow or impact to the appliances. This can lead to cuts, injuries, or loosening of brackets or wires.
  • Biting and Clenching (Bruxism): Habitual grinding or clenching of teeth, known as bruxism, can cause trauma to the tooth surfaces over time. This can lead to tooth wear, fractures, or cracked teeth.
  • Oral Piercings: Tongue or lip piercings can increase the risk of tooth trauma. Accidental contact between oral jewelry and the teeth can result in chips, cracks, or dislodgment.
  • Violence and Assault: Physical altercations or assaults can result in traumatic dental injuries, including knocked-out teeth, fractures, and soft tissue injuries.
  • Children’s Falls: Young children may experience tooth trauma from falls, particularly if they are learning to walk or play sports.

Tooth trauma can range from minor chips or cracks to severe injuries like avulsion (complete dislodgment of a tooth). The appropriate treatment for tooth trauma depends on the nature and extent of the injury. It’s crucial to seek prompt dental care in the event of dental trauma to assess the damage and determine the best course of action. Treatment options may include restorations, root canals, dental bonding, dental crowns, or tooth re-implantation, among others. In cases of severe trauma, immediate dental attention is essential to improve the chances of saving the affected tooth.

Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists Treat Grinding & Clenching

Teeth grinding and clenching, collectively known as bruxism, can have various causes and contributing factors. Bruxism can occur during the day or, more commonly, at night during sleep. The exact cause of bruxism may be multifactorial and can include the following factors:

  • Stress and Anxiety: Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, tension, and emotional issues, are often linked to bruxism. Many people grind or clench their teeth as a response to stress or as a way to cope with anxiety.
  • Malocclusion: An improper bite alignment or dental misalignment, known as malocclusion, can lead to bruxism. When the upper and lower teeth do not fit together correctly, the body may attempt to adjust by grinding or clenching the teeth.
  • Sleep Disorders: Bruxism is sometimes associated with sleep disorders like sleep apnea. In some cases, the body may grind or clench the teeth in response to breathing difficulties during sleep.
  • Medications: Certain medications, particularly stimulants, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, can have side effects that contribute to bruxism.
  • Substance Use: The use of substances such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, or recreational drugs can increase the likelihood of bruxism.
  • Age: Bruxism is more common in children but can persist into adulthood. It often decreases with age but may continue as a lifelong habit for some individuals.
  • Lifestyle Factors: Habits like excessive caffeine consumption, alcohol use, or tobacco use can increase the risk of bruxism. These substances can exacerbate the grinding and clenching of teeth.
  • Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), have been associated with an increased risk of bruxism.
  • Dental Factors: Dental factors, such as missing teeth, dental restorations that do not fit properly, or an abnormal bite, can contribute to bruxism.
  • Diet and Nutrition: Dietary habits, including consuming sugary or caffeine-rich foods and drinks, can contribute to the development of bruxism.

It’s important to note that the causes of bruxism can vary from person to person, and it may be challenging to pinpoint a single cause. Some individuals may have a combination of factors contributing to their bruxism.

Bruxism can lead to a range of dental and oral health problems, including tooth wear, fractures, and jaw pain. If you suspect you have bruxism, it’s essential to seek evaluation and treatment from your dentist. Treatment options may include the use of mouth guards, stress management techniques, behavioral therapy, and addressing underlying factors such as sleep disorders or dental issues.

Can a Sinus Infection Prompt a Dental Emergency Visit?

Dental emergencies can sometimes be caused or exacerbated by sinus infections or sinus-related issues. Here are a few ways in which sinus infections may lead to dental emergencies:

  • Toothache: Sinus infections can cause referred pain to the upper teeth. When the sinuses are infected and inflamed, the pain may radiate to the upper back teeth, making it feel like a toothache. This can be particularly confusing for individuals who may not realize the source of the pain, leading to a dental emergency visit.
  • Pressure on Teeth: Sinus infections can create pressure and congestion in the sinuses. When this pressure is transmitted to the upper teeth, it can cause discomfort, pain, and sensitivity, which might be mistaken for a dental issue.
  • Tooth Sensitivity: The inflammation and pressure in the sinuses can affect the roots of the upper teeth, leading to increased sensitivity or discomfort. This sensation can be severe enough to prompt a dental emergency visit.
  • Swelling and Inflammation: Sinus infections can lead to swelling of the face, including the cheeks and the area around the eyes. In some cases, this facial swelling can create discomfort and concern, leading individuals to seek emergency dental care.
  • Jaw Pain: Sinus infections can cause jaw pain and discomfort, which can be perceived as a dental emergency, especially if it affects an individual’s ability to eat or speak.
  • Infections Spreading: In rare cases, severe sinus infections can spread to the oral cavity, causing dental abscesses or oral infections. This may lead to severe pain and swelling, requiring immediate dental treatment.

It’s important to note that while sinus infections can mimic dental issues and lead to dental emergency visits, the underlying cause of the problem is related to the sinuses. Therefore, diagnosing and treating the sinus infection is typically the primary approach to alleviating dental symptoms caused by sinus issues.

If you’re experiencing dental pain or discomfort and suspect it may be related to a sinus infection, it’s advisable to consult with both a dentist and a healthcare provider to determine the exact cause of the problem. Addressing the sinus infection is crucial to resolving the dental symptoms, and in most cases, the dental issue will subside once the sinus infection is treated.

If you are experiencing dental pain, please call 816-373-4440 to schedule your initial visit with your Emergency Dental Kansas City Dentists for an Emergency Appointment!

Contact us today to schedule your dental appointment and meet with our skilled dentists at one of our three conveniently located dental office locations within the Kansas City area, including Lee’s Summit / Independence, the Country Club Plaza and Downtown Kansas City. The gentle dentists and expert team at Thomas L. Anderson and Associates look forward to working with you to treat your dental emergency, achieve proper oral health and a beautiful smile that will last a lifetime. If you have any questions about your dental insurance benefits, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We are happy to review your policy! Please give us a call today to schedule an appointment and become part of our dental family.