Tooth pain can be very intense; in fact, some of our patients say that a bad toothache is the worst kind of pain they’ve experienced.
Dental Pain Information | My DFW Dentist
Different kinds of tooth pain can mean different things, so here is a guide that may help you determine what your particular toothache might indicate and some suggestions that might help you relieve your toothache until you can get to your dentist.
• Toothache When Exposed to Cold – If you have tooth pain from cold foods, drinks or even cold air, this usually indicates tooth decay (you have a cavity), or a cracked tooth. It can also mean your gums have receded and you have exposed roots. For acute tooth pain in response to cold, you need to get in to see your dentist as soon as you can. If you delay, the situation can get worse and a simple filling can turn into a crown or a root canal. If your sensitivity to cold is chronic, but bearable, you might try Sensodyne® toothpaste to modify your sensitivity. Tip: DO NOT rinse after using this toothpaste as the active ingredient that helps sensitivity needs to remain on the tooth to work.
• Tooth Pain When Exposed to Heat – Heat sensitivity usually indicates irreversible damage to the nerve of the tooth. A toothache in response to something hot usually means that something is seriously wrong—like an infection–and you should get in to see your dentist immediately. This problem will not go away on its own. An ice pack may help an acute infection, in the meantime, as can over the counter pain relievers, but patients should be careful about using pain relievers, depending on medical history, health, and other drugs they are taking. Always check with a medical or dental professional first.
• Severe, Throbbing Tooth Pain That Wakes You During The Night – this type of throbbing toothache can be accompanied by swelling and often indicates an abscessed tooth. Tooth infections can be quite serious and can spread to the rest of the body, so make an emergency appointment to see your dentist. Over-the-counter pain relievers might help temporarily, but medical history, health and drug interactions must be considered before taking any pain relievers.
• Tooth pain, jaw pain or gum pain toward the back of the mouth – this type of tooth pain might indicate emerging or impacted wisdom teeth. Sometimes rinsing with warm salt water can help. If you are experiencing swelling and significant pain that has spread from the tooth to the jaw and cheek, it’s important to visit your dentist, as left untreated; this can lead to infection that can even spread to the lymph nodes. If you have a bad taste in your mouth along with your tooth pain, you may already have pus leaking from your gums. See your dentist ASAP! If your toothache is from emerging — but not impacted — wisdom teeth, rinsing your mouth with warm salt water may help until the process is complete. The gum tissue that loosens to allow the new tooth to erupt may be catching food debris resulting in “pericoronitis”. If pericoronitis (swollen gums around the emerging wisdom teeth) is limited, pain and swelling may be treated by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water and VERY GENTLY brushing around the area with soft bristles.
• Tooth Pain When Chewing or Biting – If you experience a toothache when applying pressure, such as during biting or chewing — or when you press on the tooth with your finger — this type of tooth pain usually means a cracked tooth or a “high” restoration. If you have a high restoration — in other words a filling, crown, implant or bridge that is taller than adjacent teeth, that’s an easy fix. Just go see your dentist and he or she will have to adjust your bite to lighten the pressure on the sore tooth. Your toothache should be better, but just like a bruise; it may take some time to improve. If you have not recently had a restoration, a cracked tooth is a probable culprit of your tooth pain. To repair a cracked tooth, you need to see your dentist. In the meantime, avoid chewing in that area or biting down on anything hard such as ice. Keep the area clean with gentle brushing to avoid food particles getting trapped in the crack or causing any further damage.
• Sensitivity to Sweets – If you experience toothache or tooth pain when eating sweets, this means either that you have a cavity, a cracked tooth or a loose (or cracked or lost) dental filling. On a normal tooth, the nerve is protected, so if the tooth’s nerve is reacting to sweets, it has somehow become exposed through decay, a crack or a filling that is no longer doing its job. You may have to have an old filling re-done or get a new filling for a new cavity. Sensitivity to sweet can also be caused by abrasion from too vigorous brushing over time that has worn away the protective enamel of your teeth. Sensodyne® may help with sensitivity to sweets. Remember not to rinse the Sensodyne® toothpaste off your teeth because rinsing removes the potassium nitrate, one of the ingredients in the tooth paste that fights sensitivity.
• A sore jaw — If you haven’t been hit and haven’t fallen — jaw pain can be a sign that you are grinding your teeth unconsciously during the day or during the night while you sleep. If you can become aware of the habit and are able to stop yourself, that’s ideal. Otherwise, you may want to be fitted with a night guard to aid in controlling the grinding which causes the sore muscles, headaches, and unwanted excessive wear. TMJ (sore jaw) can create a host of problems, so have it evaluated as soon as possible.
• Sore gums – Sore gums aren’t really a toothache, but they do create mouth pain. Gum pain can be caused by a gum infection, an abscessed tooth, wisdom teeth (or any teeth) coming in, or a trapped food particle (such as a popcorn kernel). The solution to the problem will depend on the cause.
• Other symptoms – A sore face that feels like its radiating into your teeth can be a tooth problem, but can also be sinus pain. If you press on your sinuses and feel pain, you may not have a tooth problem. If the pain feels like it’s coming from your teeth and just radiating into the front of your face, then a bad tooth could be the culprit. An ear ache can be from an ear infection, or it can be a symptom of TMJ or an abscessed tooth (usually in the loser jaw) that is radiating pain from your jaw into your ear.
In summary, if you’re in pain, there’s a problem. Healthy teeth don’t hurt. If you are experiencing tooth pain, something is amiss. The basic rule of dental health is that problems don’t get better on their own; they just get worse, so we encourage you to see your dentist as soon as you begin to experience a toothache of any kind, from mild to throbbing to unbearable pain.
If you are experiencing a toothache or any kind of tooth pain in the DFW area, please feel free to call our DFW dental office to describe your symptoms and we will be happy to try to help you out.