You’re enjoying your dinner when a sharp pain floods into your mouth. Or, maybe you’re brushing your teeth in the evening and you feel a dull pain in one of your teeth. Tooth pain isn’t uncommon, and it’s often associated with cavities or tooth decay. But, cavities aren’t the only thing that can cause tooth pain.
If you do get a toothache, figuring out what’s behind it is the first step to treating it. Get to know a few common causes of tooth pain.
Cavities or tooth decay are often associated with toothaches, but pain isn’t the first sign of a cavity and cavities aren’t the only issue that can cause pain in the teeth.
Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria that’s naturally in your mouth converts the sugar from the foods you eat into acid. The acid wears away your tooth’s enamel, creating a hole. If caught early enough, it’s possible to reverse a cavity by strengthening the enamel. That’s part of the reason why it is so important to see your dentist for regular teeth cleanings and checkups.
By the time you get to the point where a cavity is causing you pain, it usually will need a more invasive treatment, such as a filling. If the decay has advanced a considerable amount, your dentist might actually need to remove the damaged tooth and replace it with an implant.
Infections and Tooth Pain
An infection in the tooth or gums can also cause a toothache. Often, an infection can lead to the formation of a dental abscess, a pocket full of pus that develops at the end of the tooth or in the gums. One of the symptoms of a dental abscess is a throbbing, sharp pain near the tooth. The pain can also seem to radiate, or spread, to the jaw, ear or neck. It’s usually worse when you lie down. Depending on how severe the condition becomes, the pain from a dental abscess can be bad enough to disrupt your daily life, making it difficult to sleep or get work done.
It’s important to see a periodontist if you believe that you have an abscess. Dental abscesses don’t resolve on their own. In fact, they can become worse or can spread to other areas of the body if left untreated. A periodontist, which is a specialist of the gums, will treat the abscess in one of several ways, depending on how bad it and the damage it has caused are.
In the early stages, draining the abscess might be sufficient enough to resolve it. Later on, a root canal might be needed to remove damaged tissue and replace it. If the damage is severe, your dentist might need to remove the entire tooth and replace it with a dental implant, the most natural way to replace a missing tooth.
Sensitive Teeth Can Feel Painful
Sensitive teeth can also be painful. Enamel erosion is one of the primary causes of sensitive teeth. When the enamel on your teeth wears away or becomes thin, the dentin beneath it becomes exposed. The dentin contains nerve endings which react when exposed to hot, cold or other stimulating substances.
If you’ve ever felt a painful sensation when you’ve eaten something cold, hot or spicy, you might have sensitive teeth. Luckily, there are multiple ways to cope with sensitivity and reduce the pain associated with it. Often, the first step is to use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth when you brush. These toothpastes help to desensitize the dentin and can help restore lost enamel in the teeth. Fluoride treatments, provided by your dentist, can also help strengthen the teeth and decrease sensitivity.
Bruxism and Pain
Bruxism, or grinding your teeth, can also cause pain. The constant pressure you put on your teeth when you grind them can cause the enamel to wear away, contributing to nerve pain and damage. Grinding your teeth regularly can also cause them to break or chip, which can make pain more severe.
If you believe your tooth pain is related to bruxism, the first step is to treat the bruxism. Your periodontist might fit you for a night guard to wear while you sleep. The guard will help keep you from clenching and grinding your teeth in the night. If you find yourself grinding your teeth while awake, practicing relaxation exercises can help ease some of the tension in your mouth. Depending on the severity of their bruxism, some people find that taking anti-anxiety medications can also help.
Broken Teeth Can Cause Pain
There’s one last potential cause of tooth pain and that’s if your teeth are broken, fractured or chipped. Broken teeth might be more common than you think. You can chip your tooth when crunching down on a hard piece of food or if you get knocked in the mouth by accident.
Once you realize that you have a cracked or otherwise damaged tooth, it’s important to see a dentist right away. You can’t repair a broken tooth at home. Depending on how severe the damage is, the dentist might be able to restore the tooth with a filling, bond or crown. In cases of extensive damage, a full replacement, such as an implant, might be required.
Don’t ignore tooth pain. Whether it’s caused by decay, damage or sensitivity, treating a toothache is important for the health of your mouth and your body overall. To learn more about tooth pain and your treatment options, schedule a consultation with Dr. John Paul Gallardo, periodontists and dental implant specialists in Miami, Florida, today. The dentists can diagnose the cause of your pain and recommend options for treatment. To schedule your appointment, call (305) 547-8687.