Issues with the teeth or gums are a common root cause of tooth pain. The discomfort might range from merely bothersome to debilitating.
A better oral hygiene practice or toothpaste made for sensitive teeth might be all that’s needed to alleviate minor pain. If the pain persists, it might signify that the issue is more severe, and you should see a dentist.
Causes of Toothache
When the pulp in the center of the tooth becomes inflamed, pain in the tooth is felt. The pulp is where the tooth’s nerves stop; hence it’s pretty painful to damage it. Pulpitis, or inflammation of the pulp, can be brought on by several factors, including dental caries, trauma, and infection. If the problem gets bad enough, it might be necessary to use reconstructive surgery.
Your toothache may be caused by discomfort in your jaw. Finding out what’s wrong is the first step in getting better.
Most Common Reasons for a Toothache
Imagine yourself getting up, making a pot of coffee, and digging into a bagel. And OW! Your eyes may swell, and your gums will ache from the sudden, severe pain in your tooth. The question is, how is this possible?
You recently visited the dentist for a routine cleaning and found no cause for concern. However, you would assume that something obvious needs to go wrong with your teeth for you to experience tooth pain.
The truth is that there are many potential reasons for dental discomfort, some of which you might never even suspect. Too much bacteria, wisdom teeth that don’t come in correctly, gingivitis, cavities, and even tooth grinding (bruxism) are all potential causes.
1. Tooth Decay/Cavities
A cavity is the most typical source of pain in one’s teeth. Poor dental hygiene is a leading cause of cavities. The hole they make in your tooth might deepen and widen with time. Saliva and sugary food together can also erode your teeth, causing cavities.
A toothache is more likely to occur after a hole has progressed since it is initially painless to the touch. Cavities can be prevented with frequent dental checkups and cleanings. Untreated dental decay can cause an infection that could result in the loss of teeth or even worse.
2. Dental Abscess
When an infection in a tooth’s pulp chamber spreads to the root tip or surrounding tissue, the result is an abscessed tooth. This may cause:
- Infected Root
- Gum enlargement
- Sharp, excruciating pain
- The risk of localized bone loss due to infection.
Abscesses form when bacteria in a cavity spread into a tooth’s pulp chamber, when dental work such as a crown comes into contact with the room, or when a tooth is subjected to stress such as grinding.
3. Disease of the Gums
Gum disease, commonly known as periodontal disease, affects approximately 75 percent of Americans over 35. Most people with gum disease have gingivitis, but between 5 and 15 percent also develop periodontitis, the more severe form of gum disease. Gingivitis often causes no symptoms in its victims, but if left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
A dental injury, such as a shattered tooth or a knocked-out tooth, is a common cause of toothaches. Make an appointment with your dentist right away if this happens to you.
Wrapping the tooth in gauze or a piece of gum will prevent the tongue, gums, and cheeks from being wounded by the sharp fragments of the tooth. If a tooth has fallen out and you can replace it in its socket and bite down carefully, you can prevent swallowing the tooth.
5. Wisdom Teeth
If you still have your wisdom teeth and are causing discomfort, it is probably time to get them extracted. Experiencing severe pain from impacted wisdom teeth is an excellent reason to get them removed when they are ready to erupt.
If it is time to have your wisdom teeth extracted, you may feel pain or have redness in the area of your mouth that contains your third molars.
The discomfort will only worsen if your wisdom teeth are growing in incorrectly or crooked. They can put pressure on the nerves, bones, and adjacent teeth if this occurs.
6. Teeth Grinding/Bruxism
Though cavities and crowded teeth are the most common culprits in tooth discomfort, unhealthy oral habits like teeth grinding can also play a role. The temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull, allowing you to chew and converse without discomfort.
Clenching and grinding your teeth wears down your teeth and puts extra strain on your jaw muscles, which can lead to headaches, jaw pain, and even temporomandibular joint dysfunction. A dental splint, provided by your dentist, can adjust the lower jaw in the case of a TMJ condition.
7. Abnormal Bite
TMJ disorder is caused by both teeth grinding and an incorrect bite. It’s ideal for your top teeth to overlap your lower ones. When the upper and lower teeth connect improperly, this is known as malocclusion.
If your bite is irregular, you may experience difficulties or pain when trying to bite or chew. While it may be genetic, malocclusion is not the most prevalent source of dental discomfort.
What Happens If I Have a Toothache?
Your emergency dental specialist will need to know your medical history and do a physical examination before they can treat your toothache. They will inquire when the pain began, how bad it is, where it is located, what triggers it, and what alleviates it.
The dentist will check your lips, cheeks, tongue, jaws, sinuses, ears, nose, and neck. If your dentist has any suspicions about the source of your pain, they may order X-rays or do other diagnostic procedures.
What Options Do You Have to Treat a Toothache?
Tooth pain treatment options are condition-specific. If your dentist determines that a cavity is to blame for your pain, they will either treat the hole or remove the tooth. If an infection of the tooth’s nerve is found to blame for the pain, a root canal procedure may be necessary.
Such an infection is caused by bacteria that have colonized the tooth’s soft inner tissues. If there is jaw swelling or fever, an antibiotic may be recommended.