Toothaches are often caused by problems with your teeth or gums. The degree of the pain can range from mildly annoying to excruciatingly painful. The treatments for mild pain may be as simple as improving your oral health care routine or using toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth. Severe pain may indicate that the problem is more serious, and you may need to schedule an appointment with your dental professional. The top three culprits of tooth pain include:
3 Dental Causes of Tooth Pain
- Tooth Damage: Damage to the tooth is a common cause of pain. For example, teeth that are chipped or broken due to trauma can cause pain in your mouth. Similarly, a broken or damaged filling, crown, or dental implant can contribute to mild or severe tooth pain.
- Tooth Decay: Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of tooth pain, with varying degrees of severity. Tooth decay starts with white spots, which can be hard to observe on your own. As the enamel (outermost layer) of the tooth wears down, it exposes the tooth’s dentin which leaves you vulnerable to tooth pain in the form of sensitivity and the formation of cavities. Hot or cold foods or drinks are particularly painful for your sensitive teeth. Dentin decay is the beginning of further problems with your teeth. Abscess, which is an infection of the nerve and pulp inside the tooth, is a more severe form of tooth pain and one of the final stages of decay prior to tooth loss.
- Gum Disease: Common symptoms of gum disease (periodontal disease) include redness and swelling of the gums. These s can contribute to pain in your teeth, as well as to gum pain. Periodontitis, and advanced form of gum disease, can occur when gingivitis is left untreated, and the inner layer of the gums pulls away from the teeth, forming pockets that collect food debris and bacteria.
8 Non-Dental Causes of Tooth Pain
Some causes of tooth pain are not directly related to your teeth. If you rule out more obvious sources of an aching tooth, your pain could be associated with any of the following conditions:
- Sinus Pain Infection: Sinus infections (especially bacterial infections) can cause pain in teeth when the pressure of fluid-filled sinuses creates pain in the upper back corners of your mouth. If you regularly suffer from sinus infections, you may notice pain in teeth located near the sinus cavities. To manage pain in teeth associated with sinus pain, ask your doctor for advice about decongestants or other medications to relieve sinus pressure.
- Cluster Headache: The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but pressure from a cluster headache has been associated with tooth pain.
- Heart Attack: Pain from a heart attack can radiate into the lower jaw.
- Diabetes: If you have diabetes, uncontrolled blood sugar can increase your risk for tooth decay.
- Viral Infections: Shingles (infection with a painful rash) is an example of a viral infection that can lead to toothache.
- Nerve Diseases: A condition called trigeminal neuralgia is associated with a sharp pain on one side of the face.
- Drug Abuse: Methamphetamine abuse has been associated with pain in your tooth.
- Vitamin Deficiency: Inadequate vitamin B12 has been associated with tooth pain.
4 Causes of Jaw Pain
If you are experiencing pain more so in the jaw, mouth, or gums, your pain may be caused by any of the following:
- Temporomandibular Disorders: Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) cause pain in the jaw. The causes of TMD include chronic teeth grinding or clenching, and dislocation of the temporomandibular joint.
- Mouth Cancer: Mouth cancer can cause numbness or pain in any part of the face, neck, or mouth. Other symptoms of mouth cancer include swelling, bumps, and eroded patches anywhere inside the mouth, bleeding anywhere in the mouth, and sores on the face or neck, or in the mouth that don’t heal in a week or two.
- Malocclusion: Malocclusion is the technical term for crooked teeth or an uneven bite. Severe malocclusion can cause pain in the jaw and the muscles of the face, but most cases can be managed with braces and other orthodontic techniques.
- Impacted Wisdom Teeth: If wisdom teeth don’t have room to emerge correctly, they can become impacted, which causes pain in the gums and jaw. The pain from impacted or misaligned wisdom teeth in the upper back corners of the mouth can be similar to the pain in teeth from sinus pain. Sometimes wisdom teeth erupt through the gum line and cause no problems, but often they cause pain and need to be removed. Wisdom teeth that come in at an angle to other teeth can promote tooth decay, as well as pain in teeth. Wisdom teeth that only partially erupt from the gum line raise the risk of infection. Be sure to see a dental professional for an oral exam to have wisdom teeth evaluated.
Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent many types of pain in teeth. But when oral health problems occur, knowing some of the causes and categories of tooth pain and aches can help you talk to your dental professional about treatment options, as well as strategies for preventing future pain tooth infections. Common symptoms of tooth pain include throbbing, sharp, or aching sensations inside your mouth that can be either chronic or transient. Some types of pain occur only while chewing. Other symptoms associated with oral health problems include red or swollen gums, headaches, or drainage from an infection in the teeth or gums.
Is your pain bad enough to see a dental professional? Make an appointment if:
- You experience severe pain in your teeth
- The pain lasts for more than a day or two
- The pain is associated with a fever, ear pain, or pain when you open and close your mouth.
A dental professional may be able to diagnose the cause of your tooth pain by carrying out a full dental examination including x-rays to further identify the exact nature and location of your toothache.
- Broken Tooth or Cavity: If you have a broken tooth or a cavity, a dentist can fix the problem with a crown or filling.
- Gum Disease: Tooth pain due to persistent gum disease may require a non-surgical procedure called dental scaling and root planing, in which a dental professional numbs your gums so he or she can use a special tool to remove plaque build-up from above and below the gum line.
- Severe Gum Disease: If you have periodontitis, your dental professional may recommend a surgical procedure known as flay surgery. During flap surgery, tartar is removed from the pockets that have formed alongside the teeth. The pockets are then closed with stitches, so the gum tissue once again hugs the teeth.
After any type of treatment for tooth pain, be sure to follow your dental professional’s recommendations for oral care products and a regular oral care routine, and schedule regular dental visits to maintain a healthy smile. Even if your pain is mild, don’t hesitate to ask a dentist or dental hygienist for advice. Regular dental visits can prevent minor problems with your teeth from becoming serious. In most cases, 80% of tooth sensitivity starts at the gum line. Treat sensitivity at the source with Crest Pro-Health Sensitive and Gum Toothpaste for immediate relief within days. If your teeth tend to get stained more easily, you may have weakened enamel. As enamel erodes, it exposes the dentin layer of the tooth directly underneath it. Dentin is more porous, making it more prone to staining and decay. Try brushing with Crest Pro-Health Densify Daily Protection Toothpaste. The unique formula features a revolutionary 2X Enamel Protection System that remineralizes weakened enamel and prevents demineralization to better prevent future tooth density loss for a long-lasting, healthier smile.
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