Teeth are not meant to cause you pain—unless there’s a problem.
Tooth pain is one of the most common complaints of patients, but healthy teeth shouldn’t cause discomfort. There are many reasons your teeth may be hurting, and all of them are signs that you should have your smile checked out by your Asheville dentist.
Do your teeth hurt? Whether you are experiencing pain in a single tooth or have general pain in your teeth, read on to learn more about the possible causes of tooth pain and what to do if your teeth hurt.
Most Common Reasons for Tooth Pain
Possible Causes of Tooth Pain
Tooth pain can be mild at best and excruciating at worst. Even if you are experiencing minor pain, it’s important to have your discomfort addressed by a professional, as tooth pain can quickly get worse and become a dental emergency.
Some of the most common causes of tooth pain we see in patients include:
Tooth Infection or Abscess
A tooth infection may begin with mild pain but can quickly get worse, resulting in a throbbing pain that won’t go away. A tooth infection or abscess—in which the infection creates a pocket—can also present with symptoms such as a bad taste in the mouth, bad breath, facial pain, and tooth sensitivity.
Tooth infections can be the result of tooth decay that has gone untreated for some time and has compromised the inner tissue of the tooth. In some cases, root canal therapy can treat a tooth infection. In others, extraction may be the only option. The sooner you have the issue addressed, the higher the chance that we can save your tooth.
Other causes of tooth infections include gum disease, an injury to the tooth, and poor oral hygiene. A tooth infection will generally only cause pain in one tooth, but if the infection is severe, it may cause the surrounding teeth to ache as well.
It’s estimated that one in eight Americans has sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity can be a mild annoyance or cause sharp, intense pain depending on the individual.
Tooth sensitivity is typically the result of tooth enamel damage. Tooth enamel is the hard, shiny layer that protects the more vulnerable tissues of the teeth. Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the human body, but it can be worn away due to aggressive tooth brushing, tooth decay, and poor oral hygiene.
When tooth enamel is gone, the body can’t regenerate it. Compromised tooth enamel can cause sensitive teeth, with the more enamel being gone, the more severe the tooth sensitivity.
Although tooth sensitivity can’t necessarily be cured, it can be treated and managed with help from your dentist and proper oral hygiene at home. For some, toothpaste for sensitive teeth can also help reduce pain and discomfort. Tooth sensitivity can cause general tooth pain as well as pain in a single tooth or a group of teeth.
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, can lead to sensitive teeth because it can cause gum recession.
Receding gums can expose tooth roots, which can cause sensitive teeth and tooth pain. Gum disease can also result in an active infection, which can damage tooth enamel and the connective tissue that helps hold teeth in place, leading to pain and discomfort.
Oral health conditions such as gum disease are generally easier to treat when they are in their early stages, whereas advanced gum disease and gum recession can be more challenging to resolve.
If you notice that your teeth appear longer, are sensitive, or your gums look puffy, are bleeding or tender, or appear red, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Tooth decay typically doesn’t show any early symptoms. The best way to detect tooth decay before it causes tooth pain is to keep your bi-annual appointments with your dentist. However, in the event that you are experiencing tooth pain in a single tooth, it’s possible that you have a cavity.
Since tooth decay can turn into a tooth infection and abscess if not treated, it’s best to address any tooth pain as soon as possible. Early signs of tooth decay can include an unusual white, brown, or dark spot on your tooth enamel, a toothache, and tooth sensitivity.
In early stages of tooth decay, your dentist may be able to reverse the cavity and prevent a filling. However, once the decay has compromised your tooth enamel and become a hole in your tooth, a filling is generally your only option.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, puts a significant amount of pressure on the teeth and can cause chips and fractures as well as gum inflammation. If you grind your teeth, you may experience generalized tooth pain and even jaw or facial pain.
Teeth grinding can also result in sensitive teeth, loose teeth, and muscle stiffness in your face or jaw. If you are experiencing tooth pain along with headaches, TMJ symptoms, or any of the symptoms listed above, it’s possible that you could be suffering from bruxism.
Managing and treating bruxism is essential to protecting your teeth and gums, so don’t hesitate to follow up with your dentist if you suspect you grind your teeth.
What to Do If Your Teeth Hurt
If your teeth hurt—even if the pain is minimal—the best thing you can do is see your dentist in Asheville as soon as possible. Tooth pain can quickly get worse in some cases. In any case, tooth discomfort is a sign that something is amiss with your smile. So whether it’s a tooth infection, enamel erosion, or tooth decay, the cause needs to be addressed before the pain can go away.
Do your teeth hurt? If so, contact Saunders DDS and let us know what you’re experiencing and schedule a checkup for your smile. We will conduct a comprehensive dental examination to determine the root cause of your pain and discuss potential treatment options with you so you can feel better as soon as possible.
Call us at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online via our contact form. We look forward to helping you have a beautiful, pain-free smile for life!