When we have a toothache, the first thought and fear might be a cavity, and, indeed, tooth decay may be the the most common cause of toothaches. But it’s not the only cause, and a trip to the dentist is in order to discover the for-sure reason that you’re having tooth pain. There are several other conditions and problems that can cause toothaches. Here are a few things that can cause tooth pain other than common tooth decay:
Grinding and Clenching: Also called bruxism, this unconscious behavior causes constant trauma to the teeth and can lead to damage and injury, inflammation of the nerve, and bruising. It is a prime suspect when there is no evidence of decay and the toothache only occurs (or occurs at its worst) in the morning or during times of stress.
Malocclusion: A badly aligned or abnormal bite can cause toothache. If one tooth is higher than the rest, then when you bite down, the force will not be distributed evenly across the teeth. The one that sits just a bit too high will get excess force. This force can lead to nerve inflammation over time, or damage the tooth.
Infection/Abscess: Most abscessed teeth are the resultant infection of untreated decay or advanced gum disease, occurring deep at the root of the tooth close to the nerve- the tooth’s pain center. The pocket of infection deep in the tooth causes intense pain.
Fracture/Trauma: A severely cracked or broken tooth can leave the nerves exposed and result in persistent pain deep in the tooth.
Gum Disease: Though a bit different from other toothaches, advanced, untreated gum disease is a form of infection and associated inflammation that can cause pain in the gums, areas surrounding the teeth.
Wisdom Teeth: When wisdom teeth are erupting normally, they are cutting through the gum, which will (naturally) hurt. And the pain from impacted wisdom teeth, when they are not positioned properly or there isn’t room for them to erupt, is very common and can be either very sharp or dull and throbbing.
Toothaches are one of the most common reasons that patients visit the dentist’s office outside of their regularly scheduled cleanings, and rightly so- as the above causes of toothache require professional help to resolve. Although any tooth pain is unpleasant enough to warrant wanting a dental exam as soon as possible, causes for immediate serious concern include fever, severe pain when biting, continuous pain, a foul taste, swelling, and difficulty swallowing. Contact Mall of Georgia Dentistry (or another trusted dentist if you’re out of town) immediately if you experience those symptoms. Having any toothache treated quickly is a wise move to keep things from getting worse and may help preserve the life of the tooth. We hope you stay tooth-pain free on your own, but for those times when such things happen, we’re here to help!