For such a small part of the body, tooth pain is no joke. From trouble eating your meals to a restless night’s sleep, if you’ve ever had a toothache you know how disruptive it can be. While there can be many explanations and culprits, here are the five most common reasons your tooth might be in pain.
If you are experiencing a sharp pain when you eat or drink, especially when you eat very hot or very cold foods and beverages, you may have sensitive teeth. Sometimes tooth sensitivity can be the result of gum recession, which often happens as people get older and the tissue around the gums begins to wear, exposing the roots of your teeth and causing sensitivity or pain. Tooth sensitivity can also happen when tooth enamel becomes too thin, caused by brushing too hard or eating highly acidic foods and drinks. A little sensitivity to extreme temperatures is to be expected, but if you are experiencing any pain when you eat or drink, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Until then, try switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush and using special toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
Cracked or Chipped Tooth
Occasional pain while chewing could also be the result of a cracked tooth. While some cracked teeth are obvious and you know exactly how and when it happened, other times the cracks can be so small that you can’t see it with the naked eye and you have no idea how you did it. If you’re only experiencing pain when you eat and it doesn’t seem related to food temperatures, it may be because of a cracked or chipped tooth. Your dentist can help you identify and solve this problem, so if you think this may have happened to you, make an appointment as soon as possible.
Teeth Grinding or Jaw Clenching
Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can cause persistent and severe tooth sensitivity and pain. This is especially common in highly stressful circumstances and during sleep. If you notice that your teeth and jaw are particularly sore when you wake up in the morning, or after a stressful meeting or conversation, you may be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw without even realizing it. A headache is also often accompanied by this habit. If you are grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night, the simple solution is to wear an appliance such as a night guard. Your dentist can help you identify this problem and give suggestions to finding a solution.
You may be surprised to learn that some people experience tooth pain when they have a sinus infection. This is because the nerve branches in your teeth are on the same path as your sinuses, so when you experience pain and pressure in your sinuses, you can also experience it in your teeth. If your tooth pain comes out of nowhere and you are suffering from a sinus infection, it is likely the two are related. Your medical doctor can diagnose and treat your sinus infection and once that clears up, your teeth should start to feel better too. If your sinus infection goes away and you are still experiencing tooth pain, make an appointment with your dentist to identify the problem.
Sharp and persistent tooth pain is often the result of tooth decay, aka, a cavity. Tooth decay is sometimes gradual and can go unnoticed for a long time. Once the decay advances to an infection, it usually causes pain. Good daily dental hygiene practices and visiting your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup will greatly reduce your risk of cavities. If you think you may have a cavity, make an appointment with your dentist and she will be able to identify and treat the problem.