No matter how conscientious you are about your oral care routine, at some point in your life you will probably experience the discomfort of a toothache. Though a cavity is the most likely culprit, it is only one of several possible causes of toothaches. We take a look at what might be causing that tooth pain.

Tooth Sensitivity
If you are experiencing sharp pains when eating or drinking hot or cold foods, it could mean you have a cavity. It may also be a sign of sensitive teeth, caused by either receding gums or from the thinning of your tooth enamel. While you are waiting for a dental appointment to confirm the cause of your sensitive teeth, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth may help ease the symptoms.

Your Sinuses
Sinus infections are a less common, yet significant cause of tooth pain. If only your upper teeth on both sides of your face are in pain, sinusitis could be the culprit. This sort of toothache is usually accompanied or preceded by nasal congestion and tenderness around your sinuses. If you suspect this is the cause of your tooth pain, you may wish to see your doctor.

Dental Alignment Systems
Braces, retainers, and other dental alignment systems are a common cause for oral discomfort and aching pain among teeth. Pain is usually fairly noticeable right after adjustments which tighten or move teeth, but typically subsides after a few days. If the pain is still extremely uncomfortable and persisting, discuss with your orthodontist about readjusting your orthodontic appliance so that it does not interfere with your daily life.

Misaligned Teeth or Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Teeth that are misaligned can press against others, pushing them out of line as well, resulting in aches and pains. Impacted wisdom teeth, which are wisdom teeth that have failed to break through the gum line, can also be extremely painful as they fester below the gum line and sometimes push against other teeth. These issues should be brought to the attention of your dentist if they haven’t been addressed yet. For misaligned teeth, an orthodontic solution will likely be proposed, such as braces, and surgery will be needed to fix impacted wisdom teeth.

Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common reason for tooth, jaw, neck, and related muscle pain. People who grind their teeth generally do so while they’re sleeping or during stressful situations. Excessive teeth grinding involves violently clenching the jaw and grinding the top and bottom teeth back and forth against each other. This can result in sore jaw bones and joints, headaches, and even cracked or chipped teeth, all of which are very painful. The best course of action to treat bruxism is to have a custom mouthguard made that is worn while sleeping to relieve the stress put on teeth and the jaw.

Damaged Fillings or Dental Sealants
Dental fillings that cover deep pits, grooves, or fractures in teeth often protect vulnerable parts of the tooth. When these protectants are damaged, the sensitive parts of teeth are exposed to extreme temperatures, food particles, and bacteria. This can result in a pain that is anything from a dull ache to a sharp, piercing sensation. If you have a damaged filling or sealant, be sure to book an emergency appointment with your dentist to have it fixed before the vulnerable parts of your tooth suffer further damage or decay.

Tooth Fractures
Teeth can be cracked or chipped in many different ways, whether it’s through a fall, playing sports, or biting down on something hard or sticky. If you are feeling pain in a fractured tooth, that means that the fracture has made its way to the middle of the tooth where the nerve endings are and can result in excruciating pain. This may not happen as soon as the tooth is chipped or damaged but can develop over time as the tooth damage worsens. This is why it’s best to have chipped or fractured teeth evaluated by a dentist as soon as possible, before they have the chance to worsen.

Tooth Abscess
When tooth decay advances to the point of affecting the root beneath the visible tooth there is a high chance that the root and the surrounding tissue have become infected. This will result in a widespread pulsating pain that may make it hard to determine which exact tooth is the culprit of the pain. This is a very serious issue and needs to be professionally dealt with as soon as possible, as it can result in bone and tissue loss.

Tooth Decay
The most common reason for a painful toothache is plain old tooth decay. For the tooth and the surrounding area to hurt, the decay in the tooth would have to be significant enough to reach the inner layer of the tooth, a layer called the dentin. Once the dentin is damaged the tooth becomes very sensitive and a cavity has developed. If the pain becomes less of an ache and more of a sharp pain, the tooth decay may have reached the center of the tooth. This results in a very intense pain that makes it difficult to carry on with daily life. These issues need to be addressed as soon as possible as they are not only painful but can quickly lead to bigger dental issues.

Check with your Dentist
Toothaches are not always severe. Intermittent pain may seem like just an inconvenience and not worth an immediate call to the dental office, but procrastinating until the pain becomes more severe is unwise. Whatever the type and severity of your tooth pain, it is best to call your dentist and make an appointment. The causes of toothaches are not always clear, and a conclusive diagnosis as to the source of the pain and subsequent professional treatment is always the best course of action.

Do you have any questions about toothaches? Call Westermeier Martin Dental Care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.