Has a toothache or other pain ever kept you up at night? Pain often calls attention to a dental or medical issue that needs addressing. There are many possible reasons for tooth pain; in each case, your dentist is your first point of contact in relieving the pain.
Tooth pain is more than just a matter of comfort. In some cases, intense dental pain impacts the patient’s ability to eat, drink, sleep, focus, and fully live their lives. The good news is that with correct treatment, many people can return to living their lives free of dental pain.
Keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive, and it also isn’t a substitute for professional dental care. By becoming aware of some of the common reasons for tooth pain, you may be able to recognize when to call your dentist more quickly.
Top Reasons for Tooth Pain
Pay attention to the intensity and specific characteristics of the pain. For example, is it a dull aching pain or a sharp, intense throbbing pain? Where does it feel like the pain originates? Sharing these details with your dentist may help them pinpoint the reasons for tooth pain.
A Cavity or Tooth Decay
Over time, tooth decay may cause a hole in one or more of your teeth. This hole is known as a cavity. If the cavity is too close to some of the tender nerves in your teeth, it results in pain.
The best defense against new cavities is good daily dental hygiene, including gently brushing and flossing daily as recommended by your dentist. For existing cavities, seek treatment from your dentist since there is no need to suffer if a filling could quickly fix the problem. Sometimes a root canal is required to treat a deeper cavity effectively.
The sooner you seek treatment, the better.
Lost or Damaged Dental Filling
A related source of tooth pain may happen if an existing filling falls out or gets damaged. Additional decay under the filling may make it come loose. To fix this pain, see your dentist so they can assess the damage and offer the best treatment.
Tooth erosion happens when acids wear down the tooth’s protective enamel. Some of this happens as people age, but often lifestyle factors like consuming acidic beverages like coffee and soda speed the process up. As the enamel erodes, nerves become more exposed, causing pain.
One surprising 2014 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports indicated that triathletes experienced a higher level of tooth erosion. One theory is that sometimes their mouths get drier from all the mouth breathing. If you enjoy endurance sports like running or cycling, be sure to stay hydrated and also talk with your dentist about ways to mitigate the risk.
Since any health or lifestyle factor that contributes to acid exposure speeds erosion, talk with your dentist about preventative and corrective treatment. For example, dietary and dental hygiene changes like cutting down on red wine or soda decrease your ongoing risk.
Clenching Your Jaw or Grinding Your Teeth
Many people clench their jaw when stressed. In addition, clenchers often grind their teeth while they sleep. These common stress-responses often result in a couple of types of mouth, jaw, and tooth pain. The muscular tension from clenching can cause jaw aches and headaches. The actual grinding wears down tooth enamel and, in some cases, may cause impact-related injuries like cracked teeth or lost fillings.
Sometimes, a combination of learning stress-relief techniques and wearing a mouthguard while sleeping is the solution. Other times, underlying issues like misaligned teeth may contribute to the problem and require more specialized care from an orthodontist.
An Impact Injury
Injury from accidents or sports may cause tooth pain either immediately or over time. Also, biting hard objects may cause injuries. When the sensitive inner tissue swells, people feel pain. See your dentist with any concerns as it might heal over time, or it may require intervention.
Wisdom Teeth Coming In
If you happen to be in your late teens through mid-twenties, impacted, or incoming wisdom teeth may cause a toothache. See a dentist who will be able to identify whether this is the case or whether other potential issues require treatment. Your dentist may suggest having your wisdom teeth extracted if they are causing pain or other dental problems.
Gum Inflammation or Infection
There are many reasons why your dentist and hygienist urge you to floss your teeth daily. Irritated, swollen, or inflamed gums are often painful and, if left untreated, may result in serious dental issues, including tooth loss and premature bone loss.
See your dentist about any gum issues during your routine examination and cleaning. In addition, follow their advice about the correct technique for flossing your teeth daily. Early gum disease may be reversed with good dental hygiene. Unfortunately, much of the damage caused by more advanced gum disease is not reversible, but treatment from a specialist may help reduce the pain and save the teeth.
Sinus Pain, Allergy, or Infection
Sometimes people are surprised to hear that a seasonal allergy or sinus infection may cause gum and tooth pain. Your sinuses are close to the roots of some of your teeth. Inflammation and irritation of sinuses may put pressure on the roots of those teeth and also result in pain in the area. If a sinus issue causes a toothache, your primary care physician may treat the underlying condition.
What to Do If You Experience Tooth Pain
If you are experiencing tooth pain, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Contact your dentist’s office to schedule an appointment or discuss the details. After an examination, your dentist may refer you to specialist care if appropriate.
Dentists call on endodontic specialists for issues impacting the tooth’s inner pulp and the tissues that surround the teeth. From the list of top reasons for tooth pain, you may have noticed many of the issues involve these sensitive tissues.
If you are in the Charlotte area and need an endodontic specialist, contact Ballantyne Endodontics today.