Are your teeth hurting? Or do you have an aching tooth? If yes, it’s only natural that you would really want to know and understand the cause of the problem as it might help you in your quest for the right treatment. Tooth pain can arise from a number of causes, of which may be related to the condition of the tooth itself, the tissues surrounding it, or to some completely different non-dental health issue.
In this article by, we have outlined the different causes of toothache depending on various triggers which you may observe as a sufferer.
Teeth Hurt When Eating
If you feel dental pain when eating or chewing, your pain may be as a result of any of the following conditions:
1. Tooth decay
Tooth decay and resulting conditions are the most common culprit when having tooth pain on mastication. It occurs when acids produced by bacterial plaque begin to destroy the outer layer of enamel, which protects the inside of the tooth. It creates holes that penetrate the underlying, sensitive dentin containing nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, resulting in tooth sensitivity and pain – which intensifies when biting down on something.
2. Cracked or fractured tooth
Tooth factures cause cracked tooth pain, which shoots up when chewing or biting down on something. It can be hard to tell if your pain is as a result of crack (s) in your tooth, since the fracture is usually not visible to the naked eye. Everything about your tooth may seem normal, but you feel pain sharp enough to make you flinch whenever you bite down. If your condition is like this, then you’re probably dealing with a cracked or fractured tooth.
Pulpitis refers to an infection of the nerve and pulp inside the tooth, and can cause extreme pain when chewing. The toothache caused by this condition manifests itself in a prolonged throbbing pain. The degree of pain depends upon the extent of the infection.
4. Sensitive teeth
Tooth sensitivity is typically associated with discomfort and pain, both of which affect the teeth whenever they come into contact with hot or cold food items and beverages. This condition occurs whenever the hard outer layer of tooth enamel becomes eroded exposing the inside of the tooth (dentin), which contains nerve endings. Erosion of, or damage to, the protective covering of enamel may occur due to a number of factors, including: aggressive brushing, the use or a hard toothbrush or improper brushing techniques, regular eating of highly acidic foods and beverages, gum recession caused by dental conditions, teeth grinding and dental procedures such as bleaching, fillings and crowns. If your dental pain appears whenever your teeth are exposed to hot, cold or acidic foods, then it’s probably as a result of tooth sensitivity.
5. Broken, faulty or ill-fitting dentures, bridges or orthodontic appliances
Faulty or ill-fitting restorations and appliances can cause pain and discomfort. For example, if your filling comes out (though it’s rare), it will reveal the cavity or even expose the nerve of the tooth. The exposed inner tooth tissue is typically sensitive to pressure, air and hot and cold substances and, therefore, can be painful.
Dental crowns are the other dental restorations that can make your teeth hurt when eating even when they are properly fitted. The pain is usually felt after the crown has been installed or a few years later. If the tooth pain appears after a crown has been inserted, then it might be related to the dental cement used in the gluing process. Dental cement is acidic and it can irritate the tooth, but the pain usually disappears after a few days or weeks. Crown pain when eating may also occur due to the resulting uneven bite, root fracture, or gum problems around the crowned tooth.
Ill-fitting, loose or poorly retained dentures can cause pain when eating and may, therefore, need relining or rebasing in order to correct the problem. The same applies for poor-fitting bridges and orthodontic appliances, which can be traumatic for a tooth. Dental bridge can also warp, leading to problems with chewing as well as dental pain. Crowns and bridges can also put pressure on the surrounding teeth when eating, and this can cause pain. And orthodontic appliances, specifically braces may cause pain and discomfort which may be felt when eating as the teeth adjust to the pressure of the realignment process.
Teeth Hurt After Brushing
Do your teeth hurt after brushing? Pain from brushing indicates two things: that there’s a problem with your oral health or brushing technique. So if you experience pain from brushing or flossing, you need to take measures to establish whether you have a dental condition that is causing pain or if there’s something wrong with your brushing habits.
Improper brushing may result in dental abrasion, which could make you feel tooth pain. If you don’t pay attention to the pressure you’re using when you brush, you may end up pressing much too hard – which, in turn, could cause irritation, inflammation or bleeding in your gums. In extreme cases, improper brushing could lead to gum recession, which can make your teeth to become unstable resulting in even more pain. Other factors that could contribute to dental abrasion include: hard toothbrush bristles, worn bristles, and improper brushing techniques like brushing in a horizontal scrubbing movement while applying too much pressure rather than in a vertical direction.
Aside from poor brushing habits, the following conditions could make you feel dental pain after brushing:
- – Tooth sensitivity: If you have sensitive teeth, then you may experience dental pain during and after brushing.
- – Gingivitis: Gingivitis, which is the initial stage of gum disease, could cause you pain after brushing. The condition is characterized by buildup of plaque on teeth, which irritates the gum tissue resulting in bleeding and dental pain.
Teeth Hurt Whenever They Come Into Contact With Cold Water
If your teeth are sensitive to temperature and you always feel dental pain and/or discomfort whenever your teeth are exposed to cold, heat or touch, one of the following conditions could be a reason for your problem.
1. Tooth decay
Tooth decay or gum disease can cause your teeth to become cold sensitive. The sensitivity often arises in the early stages of the condition, causing you to feel pain or discomfort when you are eating or drinking something cold. But, it’s worth noting that with sensitive teeth, the pain or discomfort may be felt even when you’re not drinking a cold beverage or eating something frozen.
2. Worn tooth enamel and/or receding gums
If cold water and other food items hurt your teeth, you may be suffering from the effects of receding gums and/or worn tooth enamel. Your sensitivity-causing condition may have resulted from a variety of factors, such as overzealous brushing or product use, improper use or overuse of teeth whitening products, your love for acidic foods and drinks like tomatoes, coffee and wine, and teeth grinding (bruxism) due to stress.
Can Sinuses Make Your Teeth Hurt?
Yes. Sinuses can cause toothache. It occurs when sinuses become inflamed or infected. Sinuses are air-filled cavities found in the bones of the face or skull connecting with the nasal cavities. These cavities are lined with mucous membrane. When there’s an infection or inflammation in the sinuses, this mucous lining will swell and block the nasal cavity. This causes the cavities to become clogged with mucus, which may contain bacteria. Both the swelling and the accumulation of the bacteria-containing mucus result in the build-up of pressure inside the sinuses. This pressure buildup may trigger dental pain in addition to the associated sinus headaches. Sinuses tooth pain is usually felt in the upper molar teeth area, which is in close proximity to the sinus area. It manifests itself in the form of dull ache and pressure on the upper jaws and teeth. The pain isn’t limited to just one tooth, but several teeth in the area will be sensitive. If you have an ache in your teeth during a cold or around hay fever season and you’ve had a respiratory-related infection, it could be related to your sinuses.
Teeth Hurt When Walking or Running
Dental pain, when walking or running, can vary from mild to severe. The pain may be felt as a sharp, dull, pulsating, stabbing or throbbing sensation. You may also notice other accompanying symptoms, such as gum swelling, fever, cough, sore gums, and throat, facial swelling, ear pain, headaches, jaw pain, etc. These symptoms may worsen in extreme conditions such as very cold or hot weather.
If you experience tooth pain when walking or running, it’s probably because you’re suffering from one of the conditions that cause toothache. So there’s nothing strange about it. Conditions, such as tooth decay, cracked or broken tooth, abscess tooth, periodontitis, sinusitis, cavities and more, may cause dental pain – which may appear upon the impact of your foot hitting the ground while walking or running. Consequently, to establish the exact cause of your problem, you need to have your teeth checked for these conditions.
Teeth Hurt While Pregnant
If your teeth are always hurting when you’re pregnant, then it’s an indication that you’re one of those women who are susceptible to dental problems during pregnancy. Increase in weight and a baby bump are not the only changes that come with pregnancy. It brings lots of other big changes to a woman’s body, one of which is hormonal changes that can contribute to dental problems. Pregnancy hormones affect how a woman’s body responds to bacteria and this may trigger oral health problems, such as periodontal infections and sore teeth and gums. Increased blood flow, which is another physiological change that accompanies pregnancy, can cause sensitive teeth and gum swelling. This, in turn, could make you feel dental pain during pregnancy. Another reason why you might be experiencing tooth pain in your pregnancy is gum disease. Being pregnant increases susceptibility to gum disease, whose symptoms include bleeding, sore and infected gums, and dental pain.
Whatever the cause and severity of your dental pain, it’s best to see your dentist as soon as possible. The causes of dental pain are not always clear. So, don’t just guess what is ailing you and do self-medication with over-the-counter medications. Your dentist can examine you and make a conclusive and accurate diagnosis as to why your teeth hurt and then implement professional treatment of the underlying condition so you can overcome your problem once and for all.
When Should I See a Dentist About a Toothache?
See your dentist as soon as possible about your toothache if:
- You have a toothache that lasts longer than 1 or 2 days
- Your toothache is severe
- You have a fever, earache, or pain upon opening your mouth wide
Proper identification and treatment of dental infections are important to prevent its spread to other parts of the face and skull and possibly even to the bloodstream.
What Happens When I Go to the Dentist for a Toothache?
To treat your toothache, your dentist will first obtain your medical history and conduct a physical exam. He or she will ask you questions about the pain, such as when the pain started, how severe it is, where the pain is located, what makes the pain worse, and what makes it better. Your dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, gums, jaws, tongue, throat, sinuses, ears, nose, and neck. X-rays may be taken as well as other tests, depending on what your dentist suspects are causing your toothache.
What Treatments Are Available for a Toothache?
Treatment for a toothache depends on the cause. If a cavity is causing the toothache, your dentist will fill the cavity or possibly extract the tooth, if necessary. A root canal might be needed if the cause of the toothache is determined to be an infection of the tooth’s nerve. Bacteria that have worked their way into the inner aspects of the tooth cause such an infection. An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is fever or swelling of the jaw.
How Can Toothaches Be Prevented?
Since most toothaches are the result of tooth decay, following good oral hygiene practices can prevent toothaches. Good oral hygiene practices consist of brushing regularly with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing once daily, rinsing once or twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash, and seeing your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning. In addition to these practices, eat foods low in sugar and ask your dentist about sealants and fluoride applications.