My wife and I are having a debate about whether my toothache constitutes as a dental emergency or not. I say “not,” but she insists that I go get seen. Basically, what’s happening is that my tooth started acting up about three days ago. At first, I was worried, but I also noticed it coincided with the cold snap we are having. I do a lot of work outside and it actually started up while I was shoveling snow. She thinks that’s a coincidence, I don’t. It doesn’t hurt all the time, but I do have a general achiness that spreads out across a few teeth on my upper left. One of them already has a crown, if that matters. It isn’t bad and it isn’t getting worse. I wouldn’t mind going in and having it checked out, but it seems like it would be a waste of time if it is somehow related to the cold weather. Is it possible that’s all it is?
The good news is, you’re right. The bad news is, so is she.
It’s basic science that things expand and contract based on the temperatures around them. Your teeth do the same. We are talking about very minor changes here that are not visible to the human eye, but they do exist none-the-less. With your natural teeth, it could be that the enamel is expanding or contracting at a different rate than the pulp of the tooth. More than likely, it’s actually your crown that is behaving differently than the natural tooth below it though.
You might notice this more during a big cold snap or when you go outside. People who breathe through their mouths and pull the cold air past their teeth tend to have more trouble. Given that it’s cold and flu season and there’s a whole lot of stuffiness about, that can add to it.
So now that we’ve established you could be right, what about her? The other catch is that teeth with damage can be more responsive too. If you’ve got untreated decay or issues brewing under your crown, you’re far more likely to have issues. If left untreated, the problem will grow, which could leave you in serious pain or result in the need for more intensive treatment.
Just having an “awareness” of a tooth doesn’t necessarily mean it has a problem that needs treatment, but if you leave it and there is a problem, then there are consequences of that. Unless there are signs of an infection, you probably could get away with monitoring it rather than booking an emergency dental appointment. However, given that this could also be an early warning sign of trouble, it’s best to go in and have it checked out just to be safe.
This blog is sponsored by Dr. Steve Sirin. Dr. Sirin’s Elgin dental office offers same-day emergency appointments.