Why Does My Tooth Hurt?
A toothache is no fun at all and can even be scary when you don't know what is causing it. A toothache is described as any pain, soreness or ache in and/or around a tooth. The tooth may be sensitive to temperature, painful when chewing or biting, sensitive to sweets, or it may even have a sharp pain or dull ache.
Diagnosing the ProblemYour dentist has several methods he will use to determine the cause of the pain. First, he will ask you several questions regarding the types of symptoms you are having. Is it sensitive to cold or heat? Does it hurt to eat? Has it woken you up in the middle of the night? These questions will help your dentist narrow down the possible causes for your discomfort.
Your dentist may also want to take an x-ray of the offending tooth to check for abscesses, cavities, or any other hidden problems. There are other tests a dentist sometimes performs to help diagnose a toothache. Such tests include a percussion test where the dentist will gently tap on areas of the tooth or surrounding teeth to help identify the precise location of the pain. A biting pressure test, using a “biting stick” or cotton tip applicator, may be used to determine what area of the tooth is causing the pain. The cold air test uses a gentle stream of cold air blown directly on the different areas of the tooth to figure out where the sensitivity is coming from.
Once your dentist has diagnosed the cause of your toothache, they will explain to you what is involved to fix the problem and possibly prescribe you medication to help alleviate the symptoms in the meantime. In cases of severe pain, it is often difficult to determine the exact cause. Of course, if left untreated, your symptoms will only worsen over time.
The Most Common Causes of Toothaches Are:
• Tooth DecayAlso known as cavities, this condition refers to the decay of the outer surface (enamel) of the tooth. When plaque sticks to the tooth enamel, it feeds on the sugars and starches from food particles in your mouth. This produces an acid that eats away at the enamel, causing weak areas and holes. As the decay spreads inward toward the middle layer of the tooth (dentin), it can create symptoms such as sensitivity to temperature and touch.
• Inflammation of the Tooth PulpAlso called pulpitis, this condition means that the tissue in the center of the tooth (nerve/tooth pulp) has become inflamed and irritated. This inflammation causes pressure to build inside the tooth and puts pressure on the surrounding tissue. Symptoms of an inflamed tooth pulp can be mild to extreme, depending on the severity of the inflammation. Treatment for pulpitis is essential because the pain will only worsen.
• Cracked Tooth
• Impacted Tooth
• Gum Disease
Also known as gingivitis and periodontitis, gum disease is characterized as an infection of the gums that surround the teeth. This infection eventually causes bone loss and deterioration of the gums. Gums become detached from the teeth, forming pockets that fill with more bacteria. Tooth roots are then exposed to plaque and become susceptible to decay and sensitive to cold and touch.