Whether you have sharp and sudden or dull and constant tooth pain is something that is hard to ignore. Tooth pain or toothache is caused when your nerve in the root of a tooth is irritated. However, there are numerous other reasons for a person to experience tooth pain. 

Dental infection, injury, decay, cracked teeth, poorly placed fillings or crowns, or loss of a tooth are a few of the most common causes of dental pain. You may also have pain after a tooth extraction

At times, your pain can originate from other areas and radiate to your jaw, thus appearing to be tooth pain. Plaque and bacteria growing inside your mouth can also contribute to gum disease and dental decay. Both these issues can cause pain. Often, your gum disease will not result in any pain.

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What Causes a Tooth Pain?

Toothaches actually occur from inflammation of the central portion of your tooth called the pulp. The pulp contains nerve endings of your teeth and hence are very sensitive to pain. 

Your pain could have originated in other areas and might appear as tooth pain. However, the most common areas include the jaw joint or TMJ, ear pain, sinuses, and even occasional heart problems. Pregnancy could also be a risk for tooth problems that might result in tooth pain. Due to fluctuating hormone levels during pregnancy, tooth decay and pregnancy gingivitis are common.

You can prevent a majority of these dental problems through basic oral hygiene home care. Basically, you need to floss regularly and brush with fluoride toothpaste. You should also have your teeth professionally cleaned twice a year. Your dentist might apply sealants and fluoride, which are especially helpful for children’s teeth. They can also be valuable to adults and senior citizens

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Here are a few common causes of tooth pain:

  • Tooth decay or tooth cavities
  • Temperature sensitivity – hot or cold liquids or foods
  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Orthodontic movement due to braces
  • Impacted wisdom tooth
  • Abscessed tooth
  • After a crown treatment, a tooth might sometimes become sensitive. Especially when the crown is prepared or cemented.
  • During pregnancy
  • Periodontal disease
  • Gingivitis
  • Gum recession, exposure of the tooth root that was covered by gum
  • Tooth fracture
  • Acid erosion
  • Damaged or broken fillings or crowns
  • Cold sore or canker sore

What Symptoms Accompany a Tooth Pain?

Tooth pain and jaw pain are common complaints. It is not unusual if you feel a mild pain from pressure and hot or cold exposure to the tooth. However, if the pain is intolerable, severe or persists for longer than 10 seconds after the temperature exposure – then it could be an indication of a more serious problem. 

If there is severe inflammation of your tooth, the pain can radiate to your face, cheek, ear, or jaw. The signs and symptoms that might lead you to seek care include the following:

  • Pain while chewing.
  • Sensitivity of your teeth to hot or cold food and liquids.
  • Bleeding or discharge from around the affected tooth or gums.
  • Swelling around the tooth or swelling of the jaw area or cheek.
  • Any kind of injury or trauma to the area.

Most of these above-mentioned signs and symptoms might be associated with tooth decay or gum disease, often called periodontal disease. If you have dental decay or there is redness around the tooth’s gum line – it might clearly point to the source of pain.

If your dentist taps an infected tooth, it might make the pain more intense. This sign may clearly point to the problem tooth even if your tooth appears normal from the outside.

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If you have tooth pain, it needs to be differentiated from other sources of pain in your face. Sinusitis, throat or ear pain, or an injury to the TMJ that attaches the jaw to the skull can be confused with toothache.

Your pain might also occur from a deeper structure that is passed along your nerve and is felt in the tooth or jaw. In order to pinpoint the exact source of the pain and get relief, an evaluation by your dentist or doctor is appropriate.

Could It Be Sensitive Teeth?

Your healthy teeth have a hard outer layer of enamel that covers them to protect the nerves inside. The enamel can wear away over time. When the middle layer of your tooth gets exposed, anything you eat or drink can reach your nerve endings easily. This condition is called sensitive teeth. 

In addition, gum disease can make your teeth sensitive. In such a condition, your gums will shrink away from your teeth. Thus exposing the roots of your affected teeth. Also, if you brush too hard, you can damage your gums. 

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If your teeth have been recently cleaned or have undergone a new filling – it might make you sensitive for a few weeks. Many people feel it after a teeth whitening treatment. If you old filling that is loose or damaged can cause sensitive teeth leading to tooth pain. 

Dental Procedures to Resolve Tooth Pain?

Once your dentist has diagnosed the cause of your tooth pain, he will explain to you what procedure is involved in fixing the problem.

Sometimes, there can be various options to treat your conditions. For instance, if you have tooth decay and cavity formation, the primary treatment is generally restorative therapy. This means the removal of the decay by drilling, followed by tooth filling of the removed area with strong material.

For irreversible pulpitis, your dentist might choose to perform a root canal procedure. For an abscess, incision and drainage of the infected pocket could be the primary therapy.

Lastly, for your cracked tooth, your dentist will base his treatment depending on the location of your crack. It will also depend on the extent of the damage.

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In addition, for a fractured cusp, your dentist may simply place a new tooth filling or dental crown over the cracked tooth to protect it. Likewise, for a cracked tooth, he will do the same. Meaning a cracked tooth that does not extend below the gum line, your dentist might perform a root canal treatment. Finally, he will place a crown to prevent the crack from spreading further. For cracks that are even more serious conditions, extraction may be necessary.

When to Seek Medical Care for a Tooth Pain?

You should call your doctor or dentist for advice when you encounter the following issues:

1 Tooth pain is generally not relieved by over-the-counter medications. Even when it is relieved, you will still require a dental evaluation to be beneficial. So visit your dentist at the earliest. 

2 If you experience severe pain that lasts for more than two days after a tooth is extracted, it is possible that your tooth socket has not healed properly. A condition known as “dry socket syndrome” might also have occurred and you should see your dentist immediately.

3 The pain may be associated with swelling of the gums, or you might have had a discharge around the affected tooth. A fever is another sign of dental disease. These signs might indicate an infection in the tooth, the gum, or the surrounding area. It might indicate the presence of an abscess, and your dentist might perform a root canal procedure. 

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4 You might have heard about broken or knocked-out teeth as they are quite common. The sooner you seek treatment, the risk of infection is decreased and your teeth have a higher chance of being saved. It is particularly applicable for children who have damaged their primary teeth. Their baby teeth should be treated right away so that it does not affect their adult teeth.

5 Wisdom teeth might cause pain. As wisdom teeth come out, inflammation of the gum around the erupted crown is often noticed. This could lead to gum infection. You might notice a swelling in the affected area so that the jaw cannot close properly. In severe cases, you might have pain in the throat and in the floor of the mouth, making it difficult to swallow.

Tests for Tooth Pain

A thorough medical history and oral examination by your dentist can lead to an appropriate diagnosis. Sometimes your dentist might take periapical and Panorex views of your teeth and jaw for detailed examination. At times lab evaluation, including ECG tracings of your heart are also done the heart, to assist in the diagnosis.

If your cause is something other than a jaw or dental problem, your doctor might prescribe drugs related to the problem. If the condition is more severe, your doctor might refer you to a dentist for further treatment.

Are There Home Remedies for Toothaches?

Most of you might be using over-the-counter pain medications for relieving pain. Besides, you should avoid very cold or hot foods because these might make the pain worse. The most common home remedy for pain relief is to bite on a cotton ball soaked in clove oil. Clove oil is easily available at most drugstores.

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You can also use garlic during tooth pain. Garlic contains a chemical called allicin, which functions as a natural antibiotic and can fight a tooth infection. If you simply eat more garlic through supplementation or in your daily food – you can decrease the vulnerability to infection.

To help reduce pain, crush garlic and mix it into a paste with a little bit of salt and apply to the area that is infected. This will not cure the infection but might help to decrease your tooth pain. Thus preventing the infection from growing or spreading.

Applying medicated relief gel like Orajel to the affected area can provide pain relief in some instances.