Toothache can be one of the most excruciating pains at times and can indicate an underlying problem.
A decayed tooth can be a source of dental pain or there can be non-tooth related reasons for dental pain as well. It is recommended to consult your dentist and identify the cause of the pain.
What are the Causes of Dental Pain?
The degree of dental pain can range from mild to severe. It depends upon the cause, primarily. In the same way, dental pain can be resolved through simple measures like oral hygiene maintenance or one may need to think of complex procedures like oral surgery.
Tooth related causes of dental pain could be:
- Decay – As mentioned earlier, dental decay is one of the most common reasons for dental pain. Decay-causing bacteria attack the enamel and then progress deep into the layers of the tooth structure forming a cavity. When the cavity deepens and approaches near the pulp, the nerves inside the pulp get stimulated and that in turn, is felt as dental pain.
- Damaged tooth – An accident or a blow on the face can cause a tooth to break. If the tooth fractures at a deeper level, it can cause the exposure of nerves leading to excruciating pain.
- Broken filling – When a filling, that restores a deep cavity, gets dislodged one may experience sensitivity and pain.
- Abscess – Due to infection, pus accumulates in the surrounding area causing swelling and redness. This is called an abscess and it can cause a lot of pain.
- Gum problems – Inflamed or infected gums as seen during gingivitis and periodontitis can cause dental pain.
- Impacted wisdom tooth – Wisdom teeth are often associated with problems. Lack of space causes them to remain half-buried or fully buried within the jawbone. These impacted wisdom teeth cause pain. When wisdom teeth erupt at an angle, they put pressure on the adjoining teeth and cause toothache.
- Temporomandibular Joint disorder – Those who have the habit of bruxism grind or clench their teeth unknowingly. This can cause TMJ problems which in turn can induce dental pain.
Non-Tooth related causes of dental pain are-
- Heart attack – It has been observed that chest pain from a heart attack can radiate to the lower jaw.
- Uncontrolled diabetes – Those with high blood sugar are extremely susceptible to gum disease and dental decay.
- Sinus Infection – Sinuses are air-filled chambers behind our nose in the upper back region of our face. When the sinuses get infected, they are filled up with fluids that put undue pressure on the upper teeth. This can be often confused with dental pain caused by cavities.
- Cluster headache -Another common cause of dental pain could be a cluster headache.
- Vitamin deficiency – Vitamin C is important for healthy gums. Therefore, deficiency of Vitamin C causes inflammation of the gums and oral pain. Similarly, Vitamin B12 deficiency can also be a reason for dental pain.
- Nerve problems – In trigeminal neuralgia (condition affecting trigeminal nerve), the patient experiences sharp shooting pain on any one side of the face.
- Viral infection – Shingles, a viral infection, have been associated with dental pain.
How Can Toothache Be Managed?
Dental pain should never be considered lightly and you should consult your dentist at the earliest if your toothache stays for more than a day.
- Root canal treatment – For broken teeth or teeth with deep cavities, root canal treatment is the best way of eliminating the infected pulp and controlling the pain.
- Professional dental cleaning – Pain due to gum problems can be managed by a thorough session of professional dental cleaning. When the irritants like plaque and tartar have been removed the inflammation of the gums resolves on its own. In severe cases, medicines and gels for application over the gums may be needed.
- Painkillers – For temporary or symptomatic relief painkillers can be quite effective. But, they should never be considered a replacement for dental consultation. Identification of the root cause and appropriate treatment can only cure the pain completely.
- Extraction – Pulling out of the affected tooth is considered the last resort and is performed only when no other procedure can save the tooth.