Whether it’s sharp and intermittent, or a constant, dull ache, toothaches are a real “pain-in-the-mouth”!
But they occur for a lot of reasons, from structural damage to serious infection. Here are seven toothache causes that dentists see, and the treatments they can offer.
Cavities are one of the major toothache causes, and they develop after exposure to the acid produced by the bacteria in plaque. If you have poor brushing habits, you are more likely to suffer from cavities. Your dentist can treat the toothache by filling the cavities, and they can also advise you on how you might prevent them in the future.
Toothache can also be caused by infections, which typically result from severe tooth decay. You may also notice a foul taste in your mouth, swelling, or increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. This infection might be treated with a root canal, though you might also need a course of antibiotics.
In this video, a dentist in Flagstaff, AZ is interviewed on the topic of toothaches caused by bacteria.
Receding gums may also cause toothache, especially in older age adults. When your gums recede, the increased exposure of sensitive areas of your tooth can make consuming hot or cold foods very painful. Deep cleaning or gum surgery may be offered depending on the severity of the recession.
Problems with fillings
If a filling is damaged by pressure from clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, toothache can result. This type of toothache can sometimes be treated by repairing the filling, but it is possible that you will need a replacement.
Bruxism is defined as excessive grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw, and this constant pressure or movement can damage the teeth. Your dentist can provide a custom-made mouth guard to help with toothaches caused by bruxism.
One of the less common toothache causes is a crack in a tooth, which can result from playing contact sports or being hit in the mouth. If the crack is diagnosed early enough and does not extend below the gum, a root canal procedure could save the tooth.
Tooth eruption (when a tooth comes up from under the gum) may be the cause of pain in babies and school-age children, or in adults, with late wisdom tooth eruption. Over-the-counter meds, used properly, can soothe the pain. In addition, wisdom teeth that do not fully erupt due to blockage from other teeth can be a cause of pain. If a wisdom tooth becomes impacted, inflammation, infection or damage to the adjacent teeth may result. These should be carefully examined by a dentist to determine if the tooth needs to be extracted.
To minimize your chances of developing toothache, always practice good dental hygiene. If you do experience pain, contact your dentist for advice and treatment immediately.
Written by: E. C. Gordon, PhD, edited by Clifford Yurman