dentist treating tooth pain to a patient

Tooth Pain? What Your Teeth are Trying to Tell You

September 17, 2020

A sharp tooth pain is certain to grab your attention. One moment, you’re eating or drinking and the next you’re in sheer agony. Seemingly out of nowhere, your tooth starts throbbing, aching, or stinging and you’re miserable. However, there is a reason for your sudden pain, and the quicker you can identify the cause, the better the outcome will be for your oral health.

When your tooth hurts, your body is trying to send you a signal that something is wrong. A toothache isn’t just an annoyance, it is a warning signal that something in your mouth isn’t working right. 

Causes of Tooth Pain

There are a variety of reasons your teeth can hurt, but these reasons usually fall into two main categories: some form of damage or infection. If the nerves at the root of the tooth become aggravated by either cause, they will send signals to your brain telling you to stop the irritating action. This could be chewing, clenching your jaw, or consuming sugary food and drinks.

Yet, at this point, stopping the behavior simply won’t address the true issue at hand. In order to properly deal with the tooth pain, you must first determine what is responsible for the toothache itself. Here are the most common causes of tooth pain:

1. Cavities

Cavities happen when the tooth enamel becomes worn down from plaque accumulation and acids. Once the outer enamel wears away, acids attack the tooth’s dentin, and eventually the tooth pulp. Cavities are known to cause sensitive teeth and will cause mild to moderate pain in the early stages.

2. Tooth Pulp Infection and Inflammation

The tooth pulp, the center filling of the tooth, can become inflamed after a bacterial infection. Unfilled cavities are a common cause of these types of infections. If a cavity is left unfilled, the tooth will continue to erode. 

Deep infections that are not treated will eventually turn into abscesses. Abscesses can be extremely painful because they expose the tooth and allow infections to travel to other areas of the body. This can lead to gum infections and even serious blood infections if left untreated.

3. Sensitive Teeth

People with sensitive teeth might find brushing uncomfortable, experience dental pain more intensely than others, or have trouble with hot and cold foods. Leading causes of tooth sensitivity include worn enamel, exposed roots, or even improper and excessive tooth whitening. A toothache caused by sensitive teeth is mild in comparison to one caused by infection, but should not be ignored.

4. Trauma

Another common cause of tooth pain is trauma. A toothache from trauma can be as simple as biting down too hard on an almond, or as severe as an injury from a car accident. 

Temporary pain can also come from a recent dental procedure, such as a filling or root canal. In the case of a dental procedure, typically, the discomfort is only a side effect of your teeth adjusting to the repair, and it will go away in one or two weeks.

Any trauma to the tooth is serious and should be examined by a dentist. Severe damage may need to be treated by an oral surgeon.

5. Gum Disease

The medical term for gum disease is periodontal disease, and it is a common cause of tooth pain. Gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease, can lead to an inflammation of the gum tissues. This can lead to mild-to-moderate tooth pain.

Periodontitis is the result of Gingivitis being left untreated and can lead to moderate or severe tooth pain. This is because toxins are released from the plaque on the teeth and force the teeth and gums to separate, creating large pockets that are vulnerable to infection. Red, inflamed gums accompanied by aching teeth is a clear sign of gum disease.

6. Wisdom Tooth Pain

If you are feeling constant tooth pain around your back molars, it could be because your wisdom teeth are growing in. Depending on the room in your mouth and the way the teeth are growing, wisdom teeth pain can range from dull to throbbing. 

These teeth are prone to cavities, gum disease, and other infections. It is best to visit a dental professional and see if you need to have your wisdom teeth removed. Wisdom teeth that are not removed can result in bacterial infections, the development of cysts under the gumline, and even bone and gum tissue damage.

7. Tooth Grinding

Grinding your teeth while you sleep, or constantly clenching your jaw puts extra stress on the jaw muscles and joints. This can lead to temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMD. TMD can cause mild to moderate toothaches. Consult your dental professional to find solutions to treat your TMD.

8. Sinus Infection

Sinus infections could be another reason why your teeth ache. The reason for this is because sinus infections create inflammation and swelling in the sinus cavity, which borders the throat, mouth, and eyes. This can lead to pain that is felt in the forehead, between the eyes, and sometimes around the jaw and teeth. A toothache from a sinus infection is usually dull and goes away with the sinus infection. 

When Should You See a Dentist?

The best toothache remedy is to practice proper oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings will help prevent tooth pain associated with cavities, infections, and gum disease. However, some types of tooth pain can occur no matter how good your oral hygiene routine is. If your toothache persists, you should always consult your dentist for further guidance.

Carrie Muzny DDS and Associates offer the highest-quality dental services for our patients in The Woodlands and surrounding areas. Our highly acclaimed dentists are not only exceptionally trained in modern preventative techniques, but also have attained academic honors and continue to refine their craft year after year in preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry, surgical procedures, and cosmetic dentistry. With our state-of-the-art technology and vast range of smile-perfecting procedures, we stay atop the field and deliver smiles as sunny as the state of Texas!

To let us help you get that perfect smile, contact us today. You can even request a virtual consultation!

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