Most people feel pain in their mouth and assume they have a cavity. While decay can certainly cause pain, not all toothaches are caused by decay or cavities. Here’s a quick guide on what may cause the pain – but keep in mind that if your mouth hurts, you probably need a dentist.
If you feel sharp pains when you eat or drink hot or cold food, it could be caused by a cavity, but it could also be sensitivity brought on by exposed dentin. Exposed dentin is typically caused by either thinning enamel, breaks in enamel (such as cracked or chipped teeth), or receding gums. Toothpaste for sensitive teeth may help minimize the pain, but a visit to the dentist can help treat serious problems (especially if it’s caused by decay or a cracked tooth).
A cracked tooth may cause pain deep in your jaw or gums when you bite down. The pressure of biting can cause the cracked tooth to spread, putting pressure on nerves, and causing an intense pain localized to a single tooth.
Throbbing pain, especially on one side of the mouth, may be caused by an infection below the tooth, often related to periodontal disease or dental abscess. Left untreated, the infection may spread to the bone, jeopardizing one or more teeth, and potentially causing loss of gum tissue.
In many cases, pain in the mouth may not be related to dental problems at all – sinus issues and problems of the TMJ (jaw/skull joint) can both cause pain in the mouth and face, but aren’t necessarily problems your dentist can solve – you may be referred to a specialist.
The best thing to do if you feel pain is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. The brief list above may give you an idea of what the problem may be, but it’s impossible to diagnose the problem without looking at your teeth – your dentist will need to see your teeth in person to properly diagnose and treat the underlying cause, and in many cases the problem will get worse if left untreated.
For more information on oral health, contact Dr. Bartz at (708) 430-4440 or visit our website at bartzandbartzdental.com.
Dr. Bartz also welcomes patients from Chicago, Orland Park, Burbank and Palos Hills.