What Does a Dentist Do When He Gets a Toothache? I feel embarrassed to admit that this past week I had a toothache. Having a toothache made me feel like I could have been doing a better job taking care of my teeth. However, I’m not sure what more I could do. I floss and brush regularly, I get a check-up and cleaning twice a year. I have x-rays taken once a year. The only thing I don’t do that I know I should is wear my night-guard every single night. So how did I get a toothache? Well it wasn’t a cavity gone wild. When I was in dental school, I had a tooth that needed a root canal. Now 13 years later, that same tooth got re-infected. We see many patients that have had a root canal and it gets re-infected. Most are disappointed to learn that the tooth needs another root canal or surgery to correct the infection. Let me explain why root canals don’t always last forever. Teeth are hollow in the center. That hollow space is usually filled with nerves and blood vessels. When a cavity gets big enough that it reaches the nerve, you get a toothache. You treat that toothache by removing the infected nerve and blood vessels and sealing the hollow space and fixing the cavity. Cleaning and sealing that space it what is called a root canal. The hollow space is sealed, kind of like caulking around a window or sink. But sometimes that seal breaks down, just like around a window or sink, allowing bacteria to re-infect the area around the tooth causing another toothache. So what did I learn from this experience? Toothaches are very uncomfortable. We always do our best to take care of the toothaches of our patients and their friends and family A.S.A.P. That sometimes means staying late or coming early. But we don’t want anyone of our patients to suffer. That’s important to us. I also was reminded of how important my teeth are to me. Day to day I eat, smile, and speak without giving my teeth and the role they play a second thought, but my 72 hours of tooth pain really interfered with my life and my ability to enjoy it. Teeth and taking care of them are important to being healthy and happy. Finally, I was reminded that we should always take care of things as soon as possible in the way that lasts as long as possible. That goes for teeth and everything else in life. We hope none of you ever get a toothache, but if you do we’ll be here.