Tooth pain is often the first indicator of an oral health problem. Ignoring tooth pain can cause dental problems to become severe. Fortunately, restorative dentistry treatments can repair dental damage, restoring oral health and alleviating tooth pain. Discover the causes of tooth pain in this overview from Lake Jackson, TX dentists Brian K. Bell and Justin J. Crocker.
Oral Health Causes of Tooth Pain
Tooth pain is generally one of the biggest indicators of an oral health problem. Ignoring tooth pain can result in severe dental problems, including tooth loss. Seeking treatment is vital not only to alleviate pain but also to protect oral health from the dangerous causes of tooth pain. Some of these possible causes include:
- Tooth Decay: When plaque, which is made up of food remnants, bacteria, and acids from bacterial digestion, is left on the teeth, it can erode the protective layers of the teeth, leading to tooth decay. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause increased tooth sensitivity, pain, dental cavities, and tooth loss.
- Root Canal Infection: Root canal infections are bacterial infections of the nerve and pulp tissue of the tooth and can occur as a result of tooth decay or injury. Root canal infections are extremely painful, as these infections directly impact the tooth's nerve tissue.
- Abscessed Tooth: Root canal infections and gum disease can spread and infect the tissues around the tooth roots, leading to painful, pus-filled abscesses.
- Gum Recession: Gum recession, which may be caused by gum disease or teeth grinding, can expose the tooth roots, making them vulnerable to decay and tooth pain.
- Broken Tooth: Broken or fractured teeth can cause tooth pain when eating. Broken teeth are also at increased risk of decay and root canal infection.
- Loose Filling: Loose, damaged dental fillings can also cause tooth pain. This is because loose fillings allow bacteria and food remnants to reach the inner nerve tissues of the tooth.
- Teeth Grinding: Chronic teeth grinding, or bruxism, can cause tooth pain as a result of pressure and strain on the teeth. Teeth grinding can also increase the risk of tooth decay, dental fractures, and gum recession, all of which can cause tooth pain.
Other Causes of Tooth Pain
Tooth pain is not always caused by an oral health problem, but that does not mean it should be ignored. In some cases, tooth pain may be felt in healthy teeth as a form of referred pain. Referred pain is a type of pain felt in a part of the body outside of the source of the pain. Once tooth pain has been ruled out as caused by an oral health issue by your dentist, a visit to your primary care physician is recommended, as this type of tooth pain may be caused by a general health issue, including:
- Sinus Infection: Pain felt on both sides of the upper teeth is sometimes caused by a sinus infection. This pain may also be accompanied by nasal congestion.
- Ear Infection: Ear infections may also cause otherwise healthy teeth to hurt.
- Heart Problem: Heart-related problems, like an oncoming heart attack or angina attack, can manifest as tooth or jaw pain.
Discover Your Treatment Options
To learn more about your treatment options for tooth pain or other oral health issues, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Bell and Crocker.