HomeHealthCare11 Causes of Tooth Pain: Treatment Options for Each

11 Causes of Tooth Pain: Treatment Options for Each


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Nothing is more irritating or nearly incapacitating than dental sensitivity. Along with the annoying pain, you may soon need to visit the dentist for a root canal that will require novocaine and require a three-day recuperation period.

But it’s crucial to take into account the many reasons why your tooth pain might not even be related to cavities before you call in sick to work, schedule your Netflix queue, and beg a friend to come over for support. Gerry Curatola, DDS, dentist, creator of Rejuvenation Dentistry, and advisor to RealSelf, notes that tooth pain can have a variety of causes aside from a straightforward cavity. Because of this, it’s crucial to recognize the type of pain you’re experiencing, where it’s coming from, and when it’s happening.

We have the dirt on the additional causes of tooth discomfort so that you can identify the problem and prevent unwarranted anxiety.

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Your teeth are quite sensitive.

alt=Your teeth are quite sensitive

You can have dental sensitivity if you feel like your tooth discomfort always worsens when you consume cold foods or beverages, such as when you eat an ice cream bar or drink ice water, according to Pearland Family Dentistry dentist Helen Martinez-Barron. According to Dr. Martinez-Barron, “this is typically brought on by enamel that is worn very thin or completely through, which is due to wear from teeth grinding and acid erosion caused by acidic foods or GI issues like acid reflux or frequent vomiting.”

According to her, heat sensitivity is typically caused by problems with the tooth’s pulp, or nerve, as it is one of the final symptoms experienced before the nerve passes away. Deep decay, splits, or extensive dental procedures might eventually lead to nerve death, which is typically a sign that a root canal is required.

How to treat it: Dr. Martinez-Barron states that the type of treatment for cold sensitivity may vary depending on the severity of the pain. Use a toothpaste like Sensodyne, which contains potassium nitrate or sodium fluoride, to treat dull or mild irritation.

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Suppose the sensitivity is a little more severe. In that case, we have solutions that may be used in the office, such as a higher concentration of fluoride applied in trays, a desensitizing treatment called Gluma, which is comparable to Sensodyne, or even steroids, according to Dr. Martinez-Barron. Acid erosion patients frequently have severe sensitivity that necessitates total crown coverage of the remaining tooth structure. You are suffering from TMD (temporomandibular disorder).

Your teeth were recently whitened

According to Dr. Martinez-Barron, teeth whitening might cause sensitivity because the bleach causes the teeth to become temporarily porous. When using toothpaste like Sensodyne or waiting a few days, this almost invariably goes away on its own.

The best way to deal with it, according to her, is to wash your teeth with Sensodyne a week or two prior to getting a bleaching treatment.

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You brush too hard, which has resulted in gum recession

alt=You brush too hard, which has resulted in gum recession

Of course, you want those puppies to be as clean as possible, but using too much force or brushing too vigorously can actually cause more issues—and discomfort.

According to Ira Handschuh, DDS, a dentist at the Dental Design Center in White Plains, New York, “doing this takes away at the actual tooth structure, as well as the recession of the gums that normally protect the root of the tooth.” Because your root structure is more exposed, you can experience excessive sensitivity to cold foods and beverages.

Treatment: According to Dr. Handschuh, your dentist can place tooth-colored fillings on the regions where the tooth has worn away, even though the harm brought on by excessive brushing cannot be “undone.” It is sometimes even possible, he adds, to use a gum transplant to raise the gums back to their previous height. The easiest way to completely avoid this outcome is to use a manual extra-soft bristles brush or a premium electronic toothbrush to reduce the pressure.

Your gums are infected

alt=Your gums are infected

You’re not alone if you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mild, moderate, or severe periodontitis affects about half of American adults aged 30 and older (CDC).

However, even if you’re fortunate enough to be free of it, you could still have a gum infection. According to Melissa Thompson, DDS, a Massachusetts-based dentist, and owner of three Aspen Dental offices, “this happens when germs or bacteria infiltrate the teeth or gum area and multiply to a degree where the body cannot fight off the nasty bacteria.” The infection might result in discomfort or swelling, a tiny pimple above the tooth or other affected location, the production of pus, or even an unpleasant aftertaste.

Treatment: It’s essential to visit your dentist right away if you experience any of these symptoms. According to Dr. Handschuh, a gum infection may result in an abscess, which can hurt even more. “Your dentist will need to clean the gum area around the infected tooth and immediately prescribe antibiotics and mouthwash.”

You’ve suffered damage to a tooth

Unexpectedly, you might be unaware that you’ve experienced tooth trauma. It can be the outcome of a serious occurrence that occurred many years ago. This can happen as a result of anything, such as falling and hitting one’s teeth, being in a car accident where the mouth or jaw is hit, or even simply chewing on something that traumatizes the tooth.

Increased pain and sensitivity when chewing accompany tooth trauma or a tooth fracture, which causes the tooth to flex and irritates the nerve endings within the tooth. Dr. Thompson explains that if a patient were to fall and hit or damage a tooth, their dentist would need to monitor that tooth with routine follow-ups and X-rays to make sure there isn’t an infection and that the nerve inside the tooth isn’t dying.

Temperature sensitivity and discoloration on the outside of the tooth are symptoms of trauma-induced tooth death.

“A root canal and crown is normally the therapy advised for a dead tooth,” she explains. “If the tooth needs to be extracted, the next step would be implanting a bridge or removable prosthesis such as a partial denture.”

 Your sinus infection is quite bad

alt=Your sinus infection is quite bad

A sinus infection might appear suddenly and not even feel like a typical one, especially during allergy and flu season. According to Dr. Handschuh, the pressure from a sinus infection actually resembles tooth discomfort since the roots of some teeth actually sit close to the sinuses.

How to fix it: To get rid of the toothache, you might have to wait out the sinus infection. Instead of dental care, one would require medicine, such as a decongestant and possibly an antibiotic, recommended by their family doctor.

You clench or grind your teeth at night

This tendency may have already been brought to your attention by a significant other, but it can bother your bed partner more than just that. According to Dr. Handschuh, “chronic teeth grinding can occasionally lead to a cracked or loose tooth.” Therefore, it’s crucial to get your teeth examined by a dentist so they can look at how they fit together and determine whether any of your teeth are hitting too hard or too early.

When your teeth grind together, an imbalance in where they meet can result in issues including tooth and muscular pain.

Treatment options: “There are various ways to address this type of pain, one of which can be the use of a night guard,” he explains. This device helps to distribute stresses equally throughout the mouth cavity by taking pressure off of specific teeth.

Recently, you had a filling placed in a tooth or had a cavity filled

If so, you can experience extreme sensitivity when biting down in the area where the treatment was done.

For a few weeks after having your teeth drilled, you can be sensitive to cold, which is normal. However, if you are sensitive when you bite, especially on hard objects, you may need to make an adjustment to ensure that you are chewing more evenly.

Treatment: You’ll need to schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist so they can examine your bite and possibly make a few minor adjustments to reduce the pain since you’ll probably only notice this occurring after you’ve already left their office. If a tooth is temperature-sensitive, the dentist may apply topical fluoride or desensitizing paste to the affected area, according to Dr. Thompson.

You’ve got a cracked tooth

You might be able to see the damage if the crack is on one of your front teeth, but if it is on one of your rear teeth, the sight might be more challenging.

This can be brought on by a variety of factors, such as biting down on something hard that cracks the tooth, getting hurt outside the mouth due to an accident or fall, or even clenching and grinding the teeth. According to Dr. Thompson, a cracked tooth may hurt when biting down, chewing, or even drinking anything hot or cold.

The best course of action is to stop chewing on anything particularly tough right away and to visit your dentist’s office right away so that they can examine or repair the area before it worsens. A custom-made night guard will be advised to protect the teeth from further harm if the problem is the result of jaw clenching and teeth grinding, according to Dr. Thompson.

Your tooth decay has progressed from a cavity to a more serious condition

According to Dr. Martinez-Barron, minor to moderate-sized decay usually has no negative effects. “You’ll start to feel pain when the decay is getting close to the nerve, which usually signifies it’s time for a root canal since a cavity has given the germs access into the pulp,” she explains. There is no home remedy for this, and antibiotics will only give temporary relief because they do not treat the infection’s root cause, which is inside the tooth and will have destroyed the tooth’s blood arteries.


It’s wise to always play it safe and visit your dentist’s office for an evaluation since tooth discomfort may have a straightforward, simple-to-treat reason or it may have a more difficult explanation.

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