A common cause of toothache could originate from a number sources, but mainly from any of the following: dental cavities, gum disease, tooth root sensitivities, cracked tooth syndrome, impaction and eruption. To fully understand the cause of toothache it’s probably best to analyze each one and hopefully ascertain the cause of toothache in each individual case.
Cause of Toothache – Dental Cavities
The most common toothache cause is a dental cavity also known as tooth decay or tooth caries. Dental cavities (caries) are holes in the two outer layers of a tooth called the enamel and the dentin. Both layers serve to protect the inner living tooth tissue called the pulp, where blood vessels and nerves reside. Certain bacteria in the mouth convert simple sugars into acid.
The acid softens and dissolves the tooth enamel and dentin, creating cavities. Small shallow cavities may not cause tooth pain and may be unnoticed by the patient. The larger deeper cavities can collect food debris. The inner living pulp of the affected tooth can become irritated by bacterial toxins or by foods that are cold, hot, sour, or sweet-causing toothache. Toothache from these larger cavities is the most common reason for visits to dentists.
Toothache Cause – Tooth Hyperemia
The hyperemic tooth has an inflamed dental pulp. It is not yet dead, although it may be on the verge of dying. It will be hyper-sensitive to cold, touch, sometimes sweets. It may be that the patient has a broken filling or cavity and that repair will allow the nerve to settle down. If the tooth is severely hurting and the pain is fairly constant, the tooth may be dying. In this case the dentist can start a root canal and that will relieve the pain.
Cause of Toothache – Gum Disease
The second most common cause of toothache is gum disease. Gum disease refers to inflammation of the soft tissue (gingiva) and abnormal loss of bone that surrounds the teeth and holds them in place. Gum disease is caused by toxins secreted by bacteria in “plaque” that accumulate over time along the gum line.
This plaque is a mixture of food, saliva, and bacteria. Early symptoms of gum disease include gum bleeding without pain. Pain is a symptom of more advanced gum disease as the loss of bone around the teeth leads to the formation of gum pockets. Bacteria in these pockets cause gum infection, swelling, pain, and further bone destruction. Advanced gum disease can cause loss of otherwise healthy teeth.
Cause of Toothache – Tooth Root Sensitivities
Chronic gum disease also contributes to toothache due to root sensitivities. The roots are the lower 2/3 of the teeth that are normally buried in bone. The bacterial toxins dissolve the bone around the roots and cause the gum and the bone to recede, exposing the roots.
Tooth root sensitivities – oversensitivity when consuming hot or cold, sweet or sour food and beverages. Tooth root sensitivities occur when bacterial toxins get to work and dissolve the bone arount the root of the tooth, the gum and bone recede exposing the root of the tooth causing the sensitivity and toothache. This is then likely to lead to chronic gum disease.
Cause of Toothache – Cracked Tooth Syndrome
“Cracked Tooth Syndrome” refers to toothache caused by a broken tooth (tooth fracture) without associated cavity or advanced gum disease. Biting on the area of tooth fracture can cause severe sharp pains. These fractures are usually due to chewing or biting hard objects such as hard candies, pencils, nuts, etc. Sometimes, the fracture can be seen by painting a special dye on the cracked tooth.
Cracked Tooth can occur for many reasons such as an injury to the mouth, bruxism, chewing on hard objects or extreme changes in temperature on your teeth (such as eating hot food immediately followed by an iced drink) can all cause a tooth to crack and expose the dentin or inner pulp. The toothache may occur when the crack closes after releasing the pressure of a bite. The toothache gets worse over time if left untreated as the inner pulp can become infected.
If you have visible a crack in your teeth that is not accompanied by toothache then it is known as a ‘craze’ line and is considered to be part of the natural anatomy of the tooth, they usually occur as we age.
Cause of Toothache – Impacted or Erupting
Impacted (teeth pressing together) or Erupting (tooth growing out or “cutting”) molar teeth (the large teeth in the back of the jaw) can be the cause of toothache. As the molar teeth erupt, the nearby tissues can become inflamed and swollen. Impacted teeth can require pain medication, antibiotics, and surgical removal. This most commonly occurs with impacted molar (wisdom) teeth.
Other Causes of Toothache
The following problems can also cause symptoms similar to toothache, even though the teeth themselves may be free of disease:
An abscess in the gum (lateral periodontal abscess).
- Ulceration of the gums (acute ulcerative gingivitis).
- Ulceration of the soft tissues can sometimes be mistaken for toothache.
- Inflammation of the gum around a tooth which is in the process of growing/breaking through (pericoronitis).
- Inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis) can be mistaken for toothache in the upper jaw.
- Angina – a disease of the throat marked by spasmodic attacks of intense suffocative pain Heart Disease.
- Myocardial Infarction – destruction of heart tissue resulting from obstruction of the blood supply to the heart muscle.
Whatever the cause of your toothache it is important you see a dentist so that they can determine the cause and apply the appropriate treatment or refer you to a doctor. If you have to wait for your appointment then to soothe the pain you can apply a cold compress to the area of the cheek where the toothache is. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water and taking aspirin will also help. A good oral hygiene routine will prevent any toothache occurring.