Tooth pain can be impossible to ignore. In fact, it can make it difficult to eat, sleep or even concentrate when your tooth is hurting. As your dentist, eliminating your dental discomfort is a top priority. However, in order to effectively treat your toothache, we need to uncover the cause first. There are several different causes for tooth pain, including those that involve accidental injury as well as those associated with disease and infection.
Determining an accurate cause of your toothache needs to be done by a dental professional. However, you can narrow down some likely culprits based on the type of tooth pain you are experiencing. For some a “toothache” is not really an ache at all. It could be a sharp and wincing pain. Ask yourself the following: Is my tooth pain dull, aching, sharp, throbbing or stinging? Does the pain come and go or is it brought on by chewing or extreme temperatures?
Depending on your answers, your toothache could be a symptom of the following:
Severe Tooth Decay/Infection
While not all cavities produce noticeable symptoms, if it is severe enough, patients will experience pain. This occurs when the tooth decay has penetrated the tooth’s innermost layer, or the pulp. The pain is triggered because the nerves within this pulp are under attack. In this case, the best and only way to save the tooth and eliminate the pain is to perform a root canal.
Your pain may not be coming from your tooth at all, rather the surrounding gum tissues may be infected. Periodontal disease is marked by painful inflammation of the gums, mostly at the advanced stages. Gum disease develops when plaque accumulates along the gum line and around the roots of the teeth. When the infection festers, the gums recede or pull away, exposing sensitive structures of the tooth roots. A deep cleaning may be needed to remedy your toothache in this situation.
Tooth Injury or Fracture
When the inner layers of a tooth are exposed, it causes pain. Apart from decay, a traumatic injury or sudden fracture to a tooth can destroy the enamel and expose the sensitive inner layers of your tooth. Mouth injuries can happen after a bad fall, car accident, sports or simply biting down on something too hard.
Damaged Tooth Fillings
Tooth fillings repair a damaged or decayed tooth. But just like your tooth, your fillings are not invincible. This seal of protection can be broken when the filling wears away or breaks. In such cases, the tooth pain is often sudden and extreme.
Teeth Grinding Habit
The habit of nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism) can damage and hurt your teeth over time. This is common if you tend to wake up with sore teeth and a sore jaw.
If you are currently in orthodontic treatment such as braces or aligners, your tooth pain could simply be the result of your teeth moving into ideal position. This is especially common if you just changed aligners or recently visiting your orthodontist for an adjustment or tightening of your wires.
The outer protective layer of your tooth could also wear thin due acidic fruits and drinks, called enamel erosion. Again, once this outer layer is gone, your tooth becomes more susceptible to pain and sensitivity.
According to Medical News Today, a dental abscess, or tooth abscess, is described as a buildup of pus that forms inside the teeth or gums. The abscess typically comes from a bacterial infection and can be classified as a gingival, periodontal and periapical abscess. Tooth pain along with fever and a bad taste in your mouth indicates an abscess.
Regardless of its severity or type, tooth pain should never be ignored. Leaving some of these dental issues untreated can not only lead to worsening discomfort, but it could also result in costly or invasive dental treatments. While we encourage pain management, such as using an ice pack, eating soft foods or taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, it is important that a dentist treat the cause of your tooth pain to get lasting relief. At Grateful Dental, we are fully equipped to treat your toothache. Our Marietta office offers emergency dentistry so that you can get the prompt care you deserve when your smile isn’t feeling right.