Tooth pain can be multifactor and the critical step is diagnosing the problem or the cause. Here are some of the things I have seen in practice. It is not a complete list, but they are some of the more common reasons for tooth pain:
- Tooth Decay (Cavity): A cavity is one of the more common reasons for tooth sensitivity, and this is where the traditional filling comes into play. However, once in awhile the decay is so deep that it gets into the nerve of the tooth. If the decay infects the nerve of the tooth a root canal maybe necessary.
- Cracked Tooth/Teeth: This can be very painful because the second layer (dentin) or the nerve of the tooth is exposed. Depending on the fracture, either a filling, crown, root canal, or extraction maybe the necessary treatment.
- Periodontitis (Gum Disease): Believe it or not, our gums (gingiva) play a very important part to our oral health. The health of our gums and bone are the foundation to our teeth. If our gums become infected, this can lead to a toothache by irritating the gums and bone. Some signs of gum disease are that the gums are red, puffy, swollen, and they bleed easily. Some of the ways to help in treating gum disease is to have a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing). There is also the option of placing antibiotics locally around the tooth or either systemically taking antibiotics.
- Grinding or Clenching Teeth: Do you ever wake up feeling like your jaw hurts? Do you wake up with a headache or your teeth hurt? This can be due to grinding or clenching your teeth. This is a very destructive “habit”. Some people do not even know they do this. Grinding or clenching can also lead to inflammation of the jaw joint (Temporomandibular Joint). One of the more common treatments for the symptoms is by wearing a night guard.
- Sinus Issues: In Bexar County, Texas a common thing people experience is Cedar Fever. The Cedar trees are everywhere and it affects just about everyone’s sinuses. Having sinus issues can sometimes give the false impression that you have a toothache in your top (maxillary) teeth. The top-back teeth’s roots are sometimes located in the maxillary sinus, and when our sinuses are “inflamed” they will put pressure on the root tips causing us to think we have a toothache. The easiest solution would be to take your favorite sinus medication and/or decongestant.
- Eruption of Teeth: This happens a lot with younger kids as they are getting in their adult teeth. However, once in awhile the wisdom teeth (3rd Molars) will come in for an adult. If it’s your wisdom teeth, the decision of adequate space needs to be evaluated. If there is not enough room, then they need to be extracted. You can also take an over-the-counter pain medication (Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Tylenol, etc).
- New Fillings or Crowns: Every once in awhile after a procedure has been completed some patients will experience some sensitivity to a new restoration. One of the side effects with a new white tooth colored (composite) filling or a new crown is sensitivity to colds. If you are feeling this, this will pass with time. Some things you can do at home to help with the sensitivity is to apply a small dab of toothpaste (that has fluoride in it) on the tooth or taking over-the-counter pain medication.
There really is no secret method to preventing tooth pain. The key ingredients for avoiding tooth pain is good oral hygiene, which consists of brushing your teeth (at least twice a day), flossing your teeth (at least once a day), and regular check ups (every 3-6 months) with the dentist. Other things include your diet. Try to avoid eating or drinking things that contain sugars, such as candy and sodas.