Tooth pain can be excruciating. It makes it hard to sleep, work, concentrate, and go about your normal daily activities. While the symptoms can vary in intensity and type based on the cause of your toothache, the most common include:
- Pain with chewing
- Sensitivity to heat, cold, and pressure
- Bleeding or a bad-tasting discharge from around a tooth
- Swelling around a tooth
- Swelling of your gums or jaw
- Pain that radiates up to your ear
Following are three of the most common causes of tooth pain.
Tooth decay begins when the enamel begins to break down, which is often caused by acidic damage to the tooth structure. The bacteria found in the plaque in your mouth generate acidic by-products that eat away at your tooth enamel. The more sugary foods and drinks you consume, the more acid is produced, weakening the enamel and leaving you vulnerable to tooth decay.
These pockets of decay, or holes that form on the surface of the teeth, are called cavities. As the cavities grow, penetrating the tooth enamel and underlying dentin, you’ll experience tooth pain. If left untreated, they can destroy the whole tooth. Here’s a great chart that shows the six stages of tooth decay.
Infected tooth fracture
Although a cracked tooth does not always cause pain, once the fracture progresses and becomes infected, you’ll definitely experience pain. Your gums and face might swell, and you may run a fever. A fever is a key sign that infection is present.
If a dental abscess forms, you’ll need to take antibiotics. Depending on the severity, your dentist might surgically open, or drain, the abscess.
Also called periodontal disease, gum disease is a common cause of tooth pain. Dental pain from gingivitis may occur when plaque buildup causes the gums to become red and swollen.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. This causes the inner layer of the gums to pull away from the teeth, forming pockets that collect food debris and bacteria. Eventually, bone loss can also occur.