Tooth pain can come out of nowhere, but it’s often impossible to think of anything else once it hits. Even if the pain is dull, it is good to investigate the cause if it doesn’t resolve right away. Tooth pain is an area where denial is not your friend! It tends to worsen over time and can be highly dilapidating and dangerous for your health when left unchecked.
To understand tooth pain, let’s take a quick look at your teeth structure. The enamel is the most external layer of each tooth. The purpose of this layer is to protect the inside layers of the teeth from infectious diseases. It also serves as a buffer to the nerve sensitivity of the teeth. Things like cold and hot temperatures are typically not going to trigger a sensitivity reaction in teeth with healthy enamel. The enamel covers the visible part of the tooth (called the crown). The gums provide this protection to the lower portions of the tooth (called the neck and root).
The next inner layer of the tooth is the dentin, followed by the innermost layer, the pulp. Finally, at the pulp region of the tooth are the actual nerves and blood vessels that nourish each tooth. Trouble occurs when the weakened enamel that covers the visible part of the teeth exposes the dentin. If left unchecked, it spreads to the pulp layer of the tooth. Disease and weakening of the gums can also result in the exposure of these deeper tooth layers resulting in tooth decay or infection and pain.
Does All Tooth Pain Need a Dental Appointment?
There may be different causes of tooth pain. Knowing what could be causing it may help you see if you need the care of a dentist or a doctor. While you could resolve some issues with a simple change in your daily routine, this doesn’t work for all problems. Think of tooth pain as being divided into two camps: Those that are dental in nature and those that are non-dental.
Dental causes of pain could include:
- Gum Issues: Gum disease, such as periodontal disease, is the most common type of bacterial infection of the gums. It is caused by plaque buildup on the teeth. It results in swollen, red, and painful gums. If left untreated, it can cause the gums to weaken and recede, which leaves the teeth exposed to further damage.
- Decay: If bacteria get in contact with the tooth for enough time, it can cause tooth decay. A cavity is usually not painful unless you don’t catch and treat it early on. It could be excruciatingly painful if a cavity progresses deeper into the tooth to the pulp layer and extends into the root.
- Damage: Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth can occur in a wide variety of ways. If you sustain damage to a tooth, the protective layer of enamel will not be fully functional. Sharp edges could also cut cheeks and gums, leaving infection exposure as well.
- Malocclusion: This has to do with the way your teeth are aligned. An uneven alignment of your bite can be a cause for soreness in the jaw and/or the teeth.
Non-dental causes of tooth pain might be:
- Sore Muscles: The muscles of the face and jaw, particularly those used for chewing, could become sore with overuse. It can be challenging to identify this cause sometimes, but you may mistake it for tooth pain in some cases.
- Sinus Infections: You have two sinuses towards the back of the mouth. If infected and fluid-filled, the resulting pressure could be a significant source of discomfort that may feel like a toothache.
- Headaches: Some associate cluster headaches with tooth pain, though the cause of this correlation is not readily apparent.
- Vitamin B12 Levels: There seems to be a connection between deficient levels of vitamin B12 and toothache.
- Neurological Disorders: Some nerve conditions can cause sharp, aggressive pains in the mouth that some could interpret as tooth pain.
Common Symptoms We Call Tooth Pain:
- Sensitivity: If cold or hot foods and drinks are causing nerve sensitivity for a brief moment, there is likely nothing to worry about. If the sensitivity seems to be new or worsening, it could be a sign that the pulp layer of your tooth is exposed in some way. If sensitive episodes last more than 30 seconds, seek an appointment with your dentist.
- Painful Bite: When chewing and biting down on your food and you feel direct shooting pain, this can be an indication of a crack or other potentially significant issue within the tooth. A filling that is coming loose could also cause this symptom. Don’t wait. Call for an appointment to get a thorough analysis of your symptoms.
- Inflamed Gums: A “hot spot” of red, swollen, localized pain in the gums could be an indication of an infectious abscess. This needs immediate care. Overall swollen, red gums could indicate gum disease, so don’t wait on getting to the dentist for that either.
- Dull Pain: Aching, dull but persistent pain that radiates through more than one tooth could lead to a diagnosis of bruxism.
Treatment Brings Relief
Depending on the symptoms at play and the causes of your tooth pain, your dentist will recommend a treatment that will resolve your issue as quickly as possible. Getting the proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment should make you feel better right away. They can fill cavities. They can administer to root canals. They can institute protocols for gum disease,c and you can see results over time. The dentist can seal or mend chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. If the damage is too extensive, extraction can be a solution with an implanted tooth replacing it in time.
There are many ways your dentist can help you resolve tooth pain and get you back to your regular routine. If your pain lasts for more than a day or two, reach out for help. For more information, contact Cosmetic & Family Dentistry of Las Colinas today.