What Causes Tooth Pain?

September 28, 2018

No matter how careful you are with your oral health, most people experience the dull ache of a toothache at some point in their lives. When you experience a toothache, it doesn’t always mean a cavity. There are several issues that can cause tooth pain ranging from a damaged filling and temporary tooth sensitivity to gum disease and even sinus infection. Here are some of the most common causes of tooth pain and what you can do to feel better until you can see the dentist.

Teeth Grinding

Chronic teeth grinding, or bruxism can lead to a dull ache in your jaw and upper teeth. You may also experience sinus headaches if you grind your teeth. Your dentist will likely check the way your teeth fit together to determine the best solution. For some people, wearing a night guard can stop teeth grinding and the damage it causes. Until you see a dentist, over-the-counter pain medication can help.

Gum Disease

Gum disease or periodontal disease affects about 47% of adults and around 70% of seniors. Periodontal disease causes redness and inflammation of the gums that contributes to pain of the gums and teeth. You can experience tooth pain from gum disease when plaque builds up and makes the gums tender and swollen.

You may have gum disease if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain while chewing
  • Tender, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Persistent bad breath

If you suspect gum disease, it’s important to see your dentist right away. When caught early, gum disease can be reversed.

Tooth Sensitivity

If you experience tenderness or discomfort in your teeth after eating hot or cold food and drinks, it may be a sign of a cavity, or it could be from thinning enamel, receding gums, or temporary sensitivity. Brief sensitivity is usually not cause for alarm, but lingering pain after hot or cold foods may be a sign of damage to the tooth or deep tooth decay. Depending on the severity, you may require a filling or a root canal.

Until your dental appointment, there is no way to be sure of the cause of the sensitivity. Make sure you use a soft toothbrush and try a toothpaste for sensitive teeth to ease your discomfort.

Abscessed Tooth

If your dental pain is severe and constant and comes with pressure, sensitivity to the touch, and swelling of your gums, it may be an abscess. An abscessed tooth has a deep infection of the soft pulp inside the tooth and it can spread to surrounding tissue and bone without treatment. An abscessed tooth can even be life-threatening. Until you can see your dentist, take over-the-counter pain medication. Make an appointment right away as an abscessed tooth is a dental emergency.

Sinus Infection

The roots of several teeth sit very close to your sinus cavities. When you have a serious sinus infection, the pressure from the sinuses can feel like pain from your teeth. This type of pain doesn’t need to be treated by your dentist. Decongestants may help, but it’s best to see your family doctor. A severe sinus infection may require antibiotics.

Don’t wait until a toothache becomes severe; when you experience tooth pain, it’s always best to call your dentist and schedule a check-up. The cause of a toothache is not always clear without an exam. Your dentist will determine the source of your pain and develop a treatment plan to stop your discomfort and protect your oral health.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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