Five Things that Cause Toothache

Five Things that Cause Toothache

Monday, November 28th, 2011

When it comes to a toothache, there are quite a few different things that can cause it.

The worse kind of toothache is the unexpected one that appears suddenly for what seems like no reason at all.

So if you’ve ever wondered how or what could have caused this sudden throbbing pain here are a few answers.


Decay happens when tartar and plaque have been allowed to build up and begun slowing eating away at your tooth or teeth. Decay is a process of rotting that exposes the sensitive nerves usually protected by the enamel of your teeth and it’s this exposing of your nerves that causes all the pain.

Decay can happen in the side of a tooth when ‘gunk’ (plaque and tartar) has built up between teeth due to a lack of flossing, it can also happen in the crown of the tooth which is when it’s called a cavity.

Cavities are easily prevented with modern dentistry such as the application of a resin (pit and fissure sealant) to the molars (your back teeth) that reduces the depth of grooves and pits in your crowns so that plaque and tartar build up is avoided. This is an excellent treatment to get for your young children who have just grown their adult teeth and don’t yet realize how important it is to brush their teeth regularly. It will help you avoid lots of painful and expensive trips to the dentist.

Physical Tooth Damage

Just like decay exposes the nerves in your teeth, factures, cracks, chips and broken teeth can cause pain.

Physical contact sports such as football, rugby, boxing, wrestling can all increase your risk of breaking or chipping teeth. Car accidents as well as accidents around the home or when playing can result in damage to teeth that expose the dentin and nerves, causing pain. Wearing protection like a mouth guard will reduce the risk and save you some agony.

Fractures and cracks are difficult to see with the naked eye, and even with an x-ray at times. There can be many causes for them including age, grinding, clenching, bumps and knocks.

A broken tooth or a chip can be repaired by your dentist, however fractures and cracks are not always treatable and the best you can do is to manage the situation with products for sensitive teeth and possibly a night guard (a mouth guard you wear while sleeping that protects your teeth if you grind or clench your teeth at night) to minimise the damage you cause when sleeping.

Post Procedure

If you’ve just visited your dentist they’ve had to prod and poke about in your mouth, then chances are good you’ll have soreness or aching afterwards. The pain is caused by doing something that doesn’t happen often.

You can think of it being a bit like what happens after you go to the gym for the first time in months after not exercising for a while. Your body isn’t used to it, so it aches a bit the next day.

When your dentist has performed more serious dental treatment such as fitting a crown or doing a filling there will be pain afterwards, just like after any form of surgery. Even getting splinter out of your finger hurts a little afterwards and your mouth is no less sensitive.

Exposed Roots

The roots of your teeth can become exposed due to receding the gums which means your nerves are exposed.

Your gums can recede for many reasons including poor gum health, aggressive over-brushing, movement of your teeth with age including adult orthodontic re-positioning, chemical impacts from cigarette smoking, alcohol from drinking and some mouthwash products, and mouth jewelry such as lip and tongue rings.

If your gums are beginning to recede see your dentist to get a diagnosis and find out if and how your problem can be reversed.

The Dangers of Tobacco

Smoking and chewing tobacco in what ever form not matter how good the filters or pure the tobacco is harmful to the health of your mouth, gums and teeth.

The chemicals in tobacco reduce the blood flow to mouth, tongue and gums, which makes them all vulnerable to disease and desensitized. Smokers often can’t feel when things are going wrong in their mouth or to their teeth and so unfortunately often have very serious conditions by the time they’re aware there’s a problem and need to go to their dentist.

The tar from tobacco coats your teeth in a sticky substance that’s easily built up on and between your teeth making it easier to trap food particles and harder to clean your teeth. This is the cause of that very yellow color that a smokers teeth become, and it’s this discoloration that often hides the damage making it difficult to see when there’s a problem.

All up smoking or chewing tobacco is a shortcut to having stained ugly looking teeth, gum disease and cavities.

Smokers are advised to have and keep their regular routine dental appointments because they are in one of the highest risk group for dental problems.

Even though there are many causes to toothache, there are things you can do to stop the pain and prevent it –

  • Brush your teeth daily
  • Floss your teeth
  • Get ‘pit and fissure’ sealant put in your teeth
  • Wear a protective guard
  • See your dentist regularly
  • Learn how to brush your teeth to avoid over-brushing
  • Take out your mouth jewelry
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid mouthwash with alcohol
  • Show up for your regular dental checkups

The next time you get a twinge or toothache go to the dentist and get it checked out as soon as possible. Your dentist may be able to catch it early enough to save the tooth – keep your smile looking good and save you a lot of money down the track – and pain in the short term.

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