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Top 10 Causes of a Toothache

Young woman suffering from toothacheWhen the pain of a toothache hits, it hits hard. Pain can range from dull, nagging, and irritating to intense, acute, and debilitating. A tooth might only feel pain when you bite down or with temperature fluctuations. Perhaps you take good care of your teeth and don’t suspect oral pain to be a dental problem. Some patients mistake a toothache for a persistent sinus infection! If you think you’re immune to cavities and other dental problems, think again. Even people who practice good oral hygiene can develop a cavity, chip, crack, TMJ disorder, or gum disease.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports* that of adults who have teeth, 92% age 20 to 64 have had a cavity, and 26% have untreated cavities. Furthermore, a chip or fracture can occur in a tooth at any time, and gum disease affects half of all Americans. Some estimates report that up to 10 million Americans could suffer from TMJ disorder. As you can see, dental problems can affect anyone – and do affect many!

If you have a toothache, it could stem from a number of causes, ranging from a cavity to an internal infection. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of dental pain.

The Top 10 Toothache Causes

  1. Gum Disease – Infection of the gum tissue in which bacteria attack gums at and below the gum line. Gums become sore, red, swollen, and can bleed when brushing. Gums may recede, pulling away from teeth roots to cause sensitivity at the gum line.
  2. Cavity – Dental caries or tooth decay occurs when bacteria eat away tooth structure. The deeper the cavity, the more pain, in most cases.
  3. Crack, Fracture, Chip – Usually results from pressure of biting, chewing, or a blow to the mouth. When a crack or chip extends deeper than the enamel, pain becomes more intense. A fracture that delves all the way to a tooth root can allow for internal infection and necessitate a root canal.
  4. Internal Infection – When the inner canal of a tooth encounters bacteria, the bacteria thrive and pressure builds to create acute pain.
  5. Failed Filling or Crown – Dental work does not last forever. Crowns, fillings, bridges all fail with time. When a dental restoration becomes compromised, the affected tooth can become painful.
  6. Sensitivity – Thin tooth enamel, receding gums, or an internal infection can cause tooth sensitivity. Some people are sensitive to cold and hot, while others are sensitive to pressure.
  7. Impacted Wisdom Tooth – When third molars cannot erupt, but are lodged on neighboring teeth roots, they can become infected and painful.
  8. Abscess – An abscess is a pocket of infection that can develop in gum tissue (gingival abscess), in jawbone tissue (periodontal abscess), or inside a tooth’s pulp (periapical abscess).
  9. Blow to Mouth – Injury to the mouth can cause a tooth to crack, chip, or loosen. It may also cause gum tissue damage and resulting mouth pain.
  10. TMJ Disorder – When jaw joints are misaligned, they cannot find a comfortable resting position. This causes jaw muscles to be overworked, which in turn leads to jaw spasms, often while the patient sleeps. The condition is called bruxism, and it contributes to tooth wear and breakage, which causes toothaches. Jaw pain itself may also present as a toothache.

Cosmetic Dental Crowns in One Visit

Of course, dental problems require specific procedures, but for many issues, like chips, cracks or fractures, failed fillings and crowns, tooth wear, or to finish a tooth after root canal therapy, a dental crown is the treatment of choice. A crown completely covers, or caps, a tooth above the gum line for reinforcement and protection. Dr. Nikki Green and Dr. Robert Leedy offer CEREC dental crowns, which are designed, milled, and placed into the patient’s mouth, all in a single office visit. Made of tooth-colored ceramic, CEREC crowns are esthetically pleasing, as well as strong.

Tooth-Colored Dental Fillings

To address a toothache caused by a cavity or sensitivity, the dentist may suggest composite resin filling or bonding. Shaded to blend with a tooth’s natural color, the composite resin material can be applied to a cavity as a filling or as a veneer to coat a tooth with thin enamel. Tooth-colored fillings are placed in one visit.

Don’t Let Your Toothache Worsen!

Do you have a painful tooth? Regardless of the cause, your toothache needs professional treatment, because human teeth do not heal naturally. We’re accepting new patients and will try to see you the same day, if you’re in pain. Give us a call now to schedule your appointment in our Ft. Worth dental office.


­­­**NIDCR Report can be found here.

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