Toothache is one of the most common concerns people contact us about. While many people diligently make regular appointments for cleanings and preventive care at our Wichita Falls dental office, there are others who wait until there are signs of trouble. Nothing says trouble like a toothache, which can be extremely painful and hard to resolve at home. There are few effective home remedies for toothache and what you can do about the common causes of tooth pain. Here are some of the most common causes of toothache, and why you should contact a Wichita Falls dentist about your tooth pain.
Cavities are when oral bacteria create holes in your teeth. These bacteria eat sugar and other carbohydrates in your mouth and turn them into acid. The acid attacks your tooth. At first, the acid removes minerals from the tooth, then it creates holes. These holes can make your teeth sensitive to temperature or when you eat sweets.
When oral bacteria break through the outer layers of your tooth to the interior, they can infect the central chamber. This chamber contains the living part of your tooth, called the pulp. The pulp has nerves, and when bacteria infect the pulp chamber, it can cause extreme, lasting pain. A tooth infection is usually the source of the worst toothaches.
However, not all tooth infections cause a toothache.
Gum disease is when bacteria infect the area around the teeth. Although bacteria might not be attacking your teeth directly, they can make your gums hurt, which might feel as if it’s in your tooth. Plus, when bacteria damages your gums, it can expose the tooth root, which is more sensitive to heat and cold.
Temperature sensitivity is when your teeth hurt in response to hot or cold foods or beverages. This isn’t a single cause of tooth pain, but it’s a common symptom of other causes of tooth pain, including: cavities, infected teeth. gum disease, fillings, damaged teeth, aggressive hygiene, and thin enamel.
Fillings are the common treatment for cavities, so they usually stop toothaches. However, fillings can sometimes cause toothaches, too. Metal amalgam fillings often cause toothaches related to temperature sensitivity. These fillings can conduct heat out of the tooth when there are cold substances in the mouth. When hot substances are in the mouth, the fillings can expand and put pressure on the tooth. A Wichita Falls dentist can upgrade fillings from metal amalgam to address these toothaches.
Poorly fitted fillings can also cause toothaches. A tooth that is too high will experience more force than other teeth, making it more likely to hurt when you bite, chew, or clench your teeth.
Broken fillings can also cause toothaches because they aren’t filling your cavity anymore, so it’s like having your cavity all over again.
If your teeth don’t fit together properly, it can make your teeth hurt. When you have a bite problem, some of your teeth experience more force from biting and chewing than others, and that causes pain. In addition, your bite problems might cause you to clench your teeth as your jaw tries to find a comfortable position. This damages your teeth and makes them hurt.
Stress might also make you clench and grind your teeth, which can make them hurt, too. It’s good to talk to a Wichita Falls dentist about bite problems early before they develop into serious temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).
A damaged tooth is likely to hurt. Your tooth might be damaged by a blow to the mouth, biting down too hard, clenching your teeth, or even just a poorly designed metal amalgam filling. Other than the pain, chipped teeth might be just a cosmetic problem, but cracked teeth are seriously damaged and need treatment. Left untreated, a cracked tooth will likely see the crack grow, and it may become infected or need to be extracted.
Aggressive Oral Hygiene
It’s good to practice oral hygiene, but it’s possible to be too aggressive. Aggressive oral hygiene can lead to receding gums, which can expose your tooth roots like gum disease. Too much toothbrushing, especially with abrasive toothpaste, can also wear away your enamel, the outer layer of your teeth. Thin enamel can make your teeth sensitive to temperature and pressure.
The outer layer of your tooth, the enamel, is the hardest substance in the human body. Its job is to protect the tooth from temperature, pressure, and infection. If your enamel is thin, it might not provide enough protection. You might experience temperature sensitivity and pressure sensitivity. Your tooth might also be more likely to break.
Your enamel might be naturally thin, or you might develop thin enamel because of aggressive hygiene, erosion by acidic foods and beverages, clenching and grinding, and more.
Sometimes, it’s nearly impossible to track down the cause of your toothache because the pain is in the nerves. A tooth nerve can get irritated, and it hurts. Once irritated, the tooth pulp swells, which puts pressure on the nerve, leading to more pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, can combat this type of pain.
Other times, the pain is what we call “referred pain.” This is when your brain confuses one source of pain with another, so although the source of the pain might be someplace else, you feel it in your tooth.
Finally, sometimes the brain can become sensitized, causing you to feel pain for sensations that shouldn’t cause pain, such as the normal, gentle pressure of chewing.
Help for Toothaches in Wichita Falls
If you experience a toothache and want help, contact StarImage Dentistry in Wichita Falls. We can evaluate the source of your pain and determine if reconstructive dentistry or another treatment might provide results.
Please call 940-322-2252 or use our online form to request an appointment at StarImage Dentistry in Wichita Falls near Wichita Falls High School.