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Something to chew on: The many causes behind tooth pain

Causes of tooth pain

Few things are as painful as suffering from a toothache. That misery can be compounded when you are at a loss to explain why it is occurring. Did you forget to brush and floss one too many times? Maybe you bit into something awkwardly and damaged a molar. Is this pain the first sign of a much bigger dental issue yet to come? Not all toothaches are the same, especially as it relates to the location of the pain and level of discomfort that is experienced, however, both of these factors may provide clues about precisely what is happening inside of your mouth.

The highly skilled dentists at SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in New York City confront tooth pain on a daily basis. They are experts at providing innovative treatments to patients in order to alleviate their symptoms and correct their dental issues. The doctors have compiled a list of common causes behind tooth pain and offer their advice for the most effective methods to alleviate it promptly.

Tooth Decay

The most common culprit of an aching tooth is decay, and it can impact anyone. In order for the tooth and the area that surrounds it to experience pain, a significant amount of decay must be present and have already reached the inner layer of the tooth, which is called dentin. If the dentin is damaged, the tooth will become extremely sensitive. It is likely that a cavity has developed. The severe pain that can result may make it difficult to perform normal daily activities such as eating and sleeping. This type of tooth pain should be evaluated as soon as possible so treatment can be given.

Abscessed tooth

Once the decay becomes extensive and affects the root beneath a tooth, it is very probable that the root and nearby tissue are infected, evident by the pulsating pain that likely will be felt. The widespread nature of this pain may make it difficult to determine exactly which tooth is problematic. If you suspect a tooth infection, it is important to consult with a dentist as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can result in the loss of bone and tissue.

Gum disease

A dull pain in the mouth and bleeding gums as well as some tooth pain are all indicators of a condition known as gum disease, the most common and mildest form of which is called gingivitis. It usually is caused by poor oral hygiene habits. Other contributing factors include smoking, diabetes, stress, aging, fluctuations in hormones, the use of certain medications, inadequate nutrition, pregnancy and substance abuse. Without treatment, damage may occur to the teeth, gums and other bones. Surgery may be necessary to completely rid the mouth of the infection.

Fractured teeth

Whether through a fall, by biting into a hard or sticky treat, or taking a direct hit to the mouth while playing sports, there are numerous ways that teeth can become chipped or cracked. If pain is experienced, that is a sure sign that a fracture has found its way to tooth’s nerve-filled center, and serious pain may result. However, pain can be delayed only to surface long after the incident occurred once the damage has worsened. That is why it is important to have tooth chips and fractures addressed by the dentists at SmilesNY sooner rather than later.

Sensitivity to temperature

Experiencing a sharp pain while eating or drinking something that is hot or cold (or if the sensation is felt soon after doing so) is usually chalked up to tooth sensitivity. This can result when enamel wears down and a tooth’s nerve-laden dentin is exposed. Meanwhile, some New York City patients experience tooth sensitivity after undergoing tooth-whitening procedures. One remedy is to brush with a toothpaste that is specially formulated for sensitive teeth, as it may work to protect the nerves. The dentists at SmilesNY may also be able to recommend other treatment options for sensitive teeth.

Damaged fillings and dental sealants

Used to cover tooth fractures, grooves and other deep pits, dental fillings and sealants serve to protect teeth. However, they can be damaged and when they are, areas of the teeth that are vulnerable can be exposed to bacteria, food particles and extreme temperatures and cause pain. Damaged fillings and sealants require immediate, emergency attention to avoid any additional damage and the onset of decay.

Chronic teeth grinding

Bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding, causes pain in the teeth, jaw and neck as well as surrounding muscles. Patients in New York City who grind their teeth usually do so while they are asleep or under stress. With the jaw tightly clenched, grinders gnash their top and bottom teeth against one another, which causes the jaw bone and joints to ache and teeth to chip and crack. Headaches may also result. Wearing a custom-made mouth guard while sleeping is one of the most effective ways to reduce the impact of bruxism on the jaw and teeth.

Brushing and flossing improperly

Did you know that most people press too hard while brushing and flossing their pearly whites? This action can cause the gums to become irritated, inflamed and possibly to bleed. Eventually, the gums may recede, which also causes pain and makes teeth unstable. At SmilesNY, our dentists demonstrate proper brushing techniques to patients and also recommend that they use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

Teeth that are misaligned or impacted

Aches and pains in the mouth may result when teeth are misaligned and press against one another, or are pushed out of alignment. Similarly, when wisdom teeth become impacted or fail to erupt, immense pain may be experienced below the gumline. Be sure to discuss this pain with your dentist, who may recommend orthodontics to align the teeth or surgery to correct or extract impacted wisdom teeth.

Improper orthodontic alignments

A common cause of oral discomfort and aching teeth are orthodontic devices, including braces and retainers that work to align the teeth. Resulting pain is usually most pronounced shortly after regular adjustments to tighten or move the teeth are made. It usually subsides within a few days. If the pain persists or becomes particularly uncomfortable, contact your orthodontist to discuss whether it is possible to readjust the orthodontic appliance so it does not impact your quality of life.

Pain, pain, go away

Besides being incredibly painful, toothaches are also often inconvenient. However, delaying treatment usually is not a good idea, as even larger, most costly dental issues can result in the future. At the first sign of tooth pain, we encourage you to call SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry and schedule an appointment at our office located in the heart of New York City. Our expert dentists and staff members are dedicated to helping patients look and feel their best.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.