We’re not sure what’s worse, debilitating tooth pain that pops up out of nowhere or the anxiety of having to get your teeth poked and prodded by your friendly neighbourhood dentist. Either way, toothaches and pains are no fun and can cause some serious disruption to your daily routine. Ice cream after dinner with a sensitive tooth? No chance. A piping hot bowl of soup on a chilly autumn day? Forget about it. Sometimes, tooth pain can even make brushing your teeth an excruciating activity!
In this post, we’ll go over the most common causes of tooth pain and what you can do to stop it in its tracks.
Top Reasons Your Teeth Are Hurting
#1. You Have Sensitive Teeth
Some of us were born with teeth that are more sensitive than others. If you constantly experience tooth pain while enjoying hot or cold food and drinks, and the thought of having ice in your water sends chills down your spine, you might be dealing with sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity to cold objects is commonly caused by thin enamel. If you have acid reflux or GORD, your enamel may become completely worn, leading to intense sensitivity that can make eating or drinking anything extremely painful.
On the other hand, if your teeth are sensitive to heat only, there’s likely a problem with your tooth’s pulp or nerve. Sensitivity to heat is one of the last symptoms before the nerve dies. Nerve death is caused by things like deep decay, cracks, or extensive dental work and is usually an indication that you need a root canal.
If you’re experiencing mild sensitivity, switching to a sensitive toothpaste (one that contains potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride) will likely do the trick. But, if your sensitivity is a bit more intense, a trip to the dentist’s office for some in-office treatments may be the next step for you.
#2. Your Gums Are Receding
If your teeth are suddenly more sensitive than ever, gum recession may be to blame. Gums protect the nerve endings of the teeth. As we age, gum tissue starts to deteriorate, causing gum recession. Grinding the teeth and brushing too aggressively can also lead to gum recession.
The problem with gum recession is that it exposes the roots of the teeth while also leaving us more prone to gum disease and tooth infections. Sometimes gum recession can be treated with a simple deep cleaning at the dentist’s office, while more severe cases may require surgery if the gum recession cannot be treated by deep cleaning alone.
#3. You Have a Gum Infection
Statistics show that nearly 23 per cent of Australians have moderate or severe periodontitis (gum disease). The condition is strongly linked to age, and older people have a much higher prevalence of periodontists than young people. But, even if you’re not part of the population with periodontitis, you can still contract a gum infection. These infections cause pain, swelling, a small pimple above the teeth or gums that can release pus, and even a foul taste in the mouth.
As soon as you start to notice any of these symptoms, it’s imperative to contact your dentist ASAP before the infection leads to an abscess — which causes much worse pain. Your dentist will likely clean out the gum region surrounding your infected tooth and prescribe you some antibiotics and/or an oral rinse.
#4. You Have a Cracked Tooth
Teeth can crack at a moment’s notice from things such as biting into something hard, an injury to the mouth, or even from teeth grinding. When teeth crack, it becomes painful to bite down, chew, and drink, and eat hot or cold items. If one of your front teeth is cracked, you may even be able to see the crack.
If you suspect you have cracked a tooth, contact your dentist immediately. They will examine your tooth and take the appropriate measures to restore it and alleviate the pain. If your tooth cracked from excessive grinding and clenching, your dentist will likely recommend a custom-made mouthguard to protect your teeth from future trauma.