Toothaches will make anyone feel miserable. The drive to figure out what’s causing you or a loved one pain is completely understandable, which is why we made this list.
Below you can read through the top ten most common reasons for toothaches so that you can identify what might be wrong, and what your best course of action might be.
10. Orthodontic Alignment
Braces, retainers, and other dental alignment systems are a common cause for oral discomfort and aching pain among teeth. Pain is usually fairly noticeable right after adjustments which tighten or move teeth, but typically subsides after a few days. If the pain is still extremely uncomfortable and persisting, discuss with your orthodontist about readjusting your orthodontic appliance so that it does not interfere with your daily life.
9. Misaligned Teeth or Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Teeth that are misaligned can press against others, pushing them out of line as well, resulting in aches and pains. Impacted wisdom teeth, also known as wisdom teeth that have failed to break through the gum line, can also be extremely painful as they fester below the gum line and sometimes push against other teeth. These issues should be brought to the attention of your dentist, if they haven’t been addressed yet. For misaligned teeth, an orthodontic solution will likely be proposed, such as braces, and surgery will be needed to fix impacted wisdom teeth.
8. Improper Brushing or Flossing
Very often people do not pay attention to the pressure they are using when they brush and floss their teeth and end up pressing much too hard. This results in irritated, inflamed, and bleeding gums. If extreme pressure like this is constantly used, it can cause gums to recede and can make teeth unstable, resulting in more pain. Consult your dentist about proper brushing techniques and be sure to only use soft bristled toothbrushes.
7. Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common reason for tooth, jaw, neck, and related muscle pain. People who grind their teeth generally do so while they’re sleeping or during stressful situations. Excessive teeth grinding involves violently clenching the jaw and grinding the top and bottom teeth back and forth against each other.
This can result in sore jaw bones and joints, headaches, and even cracked or chipped teeth, all of which are very painful. The best course of action to treat bruxism is to have a custom mouthguard made that is worn while sleeping to relieve the stress put on teeth and the jaw.
6. Damaged Fillings or Dental Sealants
Dental fillings that cover deep pits, grooves, or fractures in teeth often protect vulnerable parts of the tooth. When these protectants are damaged, the sensitive parts of teeth are exposed to extreme temperatures, food particles, and bacteria. This can result in a pain that is anything from a dull ache to a sharp, piercing sensation. If you have a damaged filling or sealant, be sure to book an emergency appointment with your dentist to have it fixed before the vulnerable parts of your tooth suffer further damage or decay.
5. Temperature Sensitivity
If you are experiencing sharp tooth pain during, or very soon after, eating or drinking something that is cold or hot, this is typically associated with tooth sensitivity. This can mean that your tooth enamel has worn down and your tooth’s dentin (the layer where the tooth’s nerves lie) is exposed, or can be a result of recent teeth whitening. To help protect these nerves and shelter them from extreme temperatures, try a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth. Consult your dentist for recommendations and further treatment options.
4. Tooth Fractures
Teeth can be cracked or chipped in many different ways, whether it’s through a fall, playing sports, or biting down on something hard or sticky. If you are feeling pain in a fractured tooth, that means that the fracture has made its way to the middle of the tooth where the nerve endings are and can result in excruciating pain.
This may not happen as soon as the tooth is chipped or damaged, but can develop over time as the tooth damage worsens. This is why all fractures and chips should be attended to by your dentist as soon as possible and before they have the chance to worsen.
3. Gum Disease
Gum disease is characterized by a dull pain in the mouth, red, bleeding gums, and also sometimes tooth pain. A common cause of this is the oral bone and gums becoming inflamed. If left untreated, teeth, gums, and bones could be damaged or lost, and surgical measures may have to be taken to rid the mouth of infection.
2. Tooth Abscess
When tooth decay advances to the point of affecting the root beneath the visible tooth there is a high chance that the root and the surrounding tissue have become infected. This will result in a widespread pulsating pain that may make it hard to determine which exact tooth is the culprit of the pain. This is a very serious issue and needs to be professionally dealt with as soon as possible as it can result in bone and tissue loss. Which, obviously, is no fun at all.
Annnnnd are you ready for number one?
Yes, it’s our old enemy, the nefarious and dreaded tooth decay!
1. Tooth Decay
The most common reason for a painful toothache is plain old tooth decay. Sure, it might not be all that exciting or new, but it’s something that can affect any of us.
For the tooth and the surrounding area to hurt, the decay in the tooth would have to be significant enough to reach the inner layer of the tooth, a layer called the dentin. Once the dentin is damaged the tooth becomes very sensitive and a cavity, or cary, has developed.
If the pain becomes less of an ache and more of a sharp pain, the tooth decay may have reached the centre of the tooth. This results in a very intense pain that makes it difficult to carry on with daily life. These issues need to be addressed as soon as possible as they are not only painful but can quickly lead to bigger dental issues.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms described above and have read through this whole list trying to figure out what might be wrong – call your dentist today. A simple examination can determine what’s going on, and the sooner you do it the better. Delaying can make a simple problem grow into a larger one just from neglect.
So don’t delay and don’t be scared! If going to the dentist makes you anxious, ask about sedation. There are multiple varieties available, and it’s perfectly normal to be nervous (some estimates say up to 80% of people suffer from dental fear!).
If you’re currently experiencing a dental emergency, call this number and we’ll get you the help you need!