If you felt pain because of one of your tooth and then the pain disappeared, there are two different possibilities. First, the pain was temporary and caused by hot, cold drink or chewing hard or sweet food. In this case, the pain is caused by a mild infection that just started to affect the most inner part of the tooth called the pulp.
The second possibility occurs when your tooth has died because the infection killed all the pulp formed by blood vessels, cells and all the vital parts of the dental element.
In other words, when bacteria attack the most external part of the pulp, the toothache is mild and you can keep it under control with the help of over the counter painkiller.
Instead, as soon as the infection reaches the tooth nerves the pain get worse and painkiller is not so helpful!
The medical term that defines the pulp infection is “pulpitis” and usually, dentists tend to distinguish between reversible pulpitis from the irreversible one.
The symptoms of the first type of pulpitis are intermitting pain that appears when the tooth is stimulated for example when eating. The sensitivity to hot and cold food/drinks is a clear sign that something doesn’t work with the enamel of your infected tooth.
When the infection is necrotizing the vital part of the dental element, additional symptoms add to those listed above. Fever, swollen lymph nodes, and bad breath are clear signs of irreversible pulpitis.
Once the infection has killed the pulp completely, the tooth pain disappears because the nerves within the dental canal have died so the pain messages do not reach the brain anymore.
Most of the people in this situation might think the infection solved by its own but it is not in this way. In fact, bad bacteria are still there and the necrotizing process continues to progress affecting the deepest part of the dental root but it is not all.
Each dental element has a small hole at the apex level where nerves come in. Infection bacteria do not stop their work and exit the tooth root through that tiny hole. The gingival tissue that surrounds the dental root gets inflamed as well and a new pathology begins called periapical abscess. The infected area swells and a pocket of pus forms.
At this stage of the periodontal pathology, the job of the dentist is absolutely required otherwise the infection can easily spread to other organs such as the neck, maxillary sinuses, and jawbone. The treatment involves the dental abscess drainage to let the pus to come out and to lower the pressure within the bump. In addition, the root canal procedure will completely remove the infected tissue as well as the cause of the tooth infection which are bacteria. In this way, your tooth can be saved and can remain in place for the rest of your life.
If the tooth is too damaged and cannot be saved, there is only one solution: the tooth extraction. You should keep in mind that the extracted dental element should be replaced as soon as possible with a dental bridge or a single dental implant with a fake crown on top.
The main reason to replace a missing tooth is that it is necessary to avoid other teeth to shift causing a bad bite that may affect your overall health and your aesthetic.
The pulpitis prevention starts at home practicing and maintaining a good oral hygiene brushing and flossing your teeth after each meal. A good mouthwash can help you to fight bacteria that cause dental cavities and gingivitis.
The electric toothbrush is more helpful than the manual one in order to remove more dental plaque and to lower the caries chances (especially for braces wearers).
Last but not least, it is very important to visit your dentist, at least, 2 times a year to get your teeth professionally cleaned and the full mouth examination. During the visit, the dentist may decide to take one or more x-rays to discover those small early cavities that hide in between your teeth.
The sooner the cavities get discovered the easier and affordable the treatment will be.