As a dentist, I can empathize with the intense agony that tooth pain can inflict upon you. It’s not only excruciating but also inconvenient as it can impede your ability to eat properly. Unlike other parts of the body that sense not just pain but also cold and heat, teeth are solely equipped with pain fibers. In this blog post, I’ll delve into the likely reasons for your tooth pain and suggest some potential remedies to alleviate it.
1.Tooth pain from nerve damage (or cavities)
Tooth pain is an incredibly common affliction that many people have experienced. It often arises due to the progression of dental caries, which initially targets the enamel, then advances to the underlying dentin, and eventually reaches the nerve. The pain typically begins as a dull ache, but gradually intensifies and becomes more sensitive to cold, sweet, and hot stimuli. Ultimately, it can become unbearable and interfere with eating, sleeping, and even radiate to the head and neck. To address this discomfort, it’s crucial to seek prompt treatment from emergency dental services.
During a dental emergency, the first step is typically to take a periapical x-ray to evaluate the condition of the affected tooth. Based on the findings, the dentist may decide to remove the nerve from the tooth, which can alleviate a significant portion of the pain, often providing immediate relief. Alternatively, the patient may be referred to an endodontist for a complete nerve removal procedure under local anesthesia. Following nerve removal, the specialist may choose to place medication inside the canal for a few days to promote healing, or if deemed unnecessary, they may proceed with a root canal, which involves filling the canal with a specialized material to seal it off.
It’s imperative to restore the damaged tooth with a definitive restoration, such as resin, inlay, or crown, as soon as possible. Oral bacteria tend to colonize rapidly, so delaying treatment can lead to the bacteria re-infecting the area and causing even more discomfort and harm, including abscesses or damage to the dental bone. If left untreated, it can even result in acute or chronic apical periodontitis, a persistent disease that is more challenging, expensive, and uncomfortable to treat. While painkillers may be necessary to alleviate the symptoms, they alone cannot address the underlying issue. Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid self-medication and seek professional help without delay. Following a consultation, the specialist will likely prescribe appropriate painkillers along with a recommended course of treatment.
2. Tooth pain due to third molar eruption (Pericoronitis)
Another common type of toothache is Pericoronitis, which is often associated with wisdom teeth eruption. In this case, a pocket forms between the emerging tooth and the gum, which can quickly accumulate food particles and lead to inflammation, bleeding, and severe pain. In some cases, a dental abscess may also develop. The treatment approach varies based on the severity of the condition. From my 11 years of experience, I can say that only one of my patients has had an abscess, and one required antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to manage the infection before extraction. The remaining cases have been mild and manageable without significant intervention.
When it comes to managing mild cases of Pericoronitis, there are a few things that can be done to alleviate the pain and inflammation. Firstly, drinking saline solution or water can help, and using a syringe (without the needle) to apply pressure to the affected area can help clean out the pocket of gum that has formed around the emerging molar. This can be followed by using mouthwash in the rest of the mouth and gently brushing the teeth. Immediate relief can be achieved because the pressure and inflammation caused by the trapped food are relieved. However, it is important to note that attending a dentist as soon as possible is crucial in order to determine the next step to take with the affected tooth. In most cases, extraction is necessary as there is not enough space in the mouth to accommodate it. It is important to seek professional advice and not attempt to extract the tooth yourself, as this can lead to further complications and even infection. In some cases, antibiotics or painkillers may also be prescribed to manage the pain and inflammation before extraction.
3. Orthodontic tooth pain
Tooth pain is a common occurrence during orthodontic treatment, often happening when braces are first installed or during routine appointments where the elastics are adjusted or replaced. To alleviate tooth pain caused by orthodontics, there are various methods that can be used.
- To alleviate tooth pain during orthodontic treatment, there are several options available. In addition to the discomfort caused by the pressure applied to the tooth, pain may also be caused by areas of demineralization resulting from poor brushing technique. To address this, it is recommended to use toothpastes and mouthwashes specifically designed for sensitivity, avoiding whitening toothpastes. Topical fluoride application is also recommended every 6 months during dental cleanings to remineralize affected areas. Proper cleaning technique during orthodontic treatment can also reduce pain and sensitivity. For more information on how to brush your teeth with braces, consult the relevant resources.
- Self-ligating brackets offer a more efficient system compared to traditional brackets because they do not require rubber bands. They apply a progressive force to the tooth over the course of the entire treatment, rather than just during control appointments. Additionally, self-ligating brackets do not have wings, which reduces the risk of lacerations in the gums and cheeks.
4. Tooth pain from bruxism
Teeth pain can also result from bruxism, a condition where a person unconsciously grinds their teeth. This can cause intense pain, and in some cases, the teeth can become damaged beyond repair. I once had a patient who came to my clinic with a tooth that had already suffered pulpal necrosis due to the excessive force that their muscles had exerted on their teeth. As such, endodontic treatment was necessary to alleviate their pain.
How to fix it::
To begin with, it is important to note that bruxism has multiple causes, including stress, posture issues, bite problems, and temporary factors. Therefore, the first step is to identify the underlying cause, either by consulting with a dentist or assessing it on our own. If the cause of bruxism is related to a bite problem, it is recommended to undergo orthodontic treatment to address the issue and improve the outcome. On the other hand, if it is due to stress, which is one of the most common factors, there are several measures that can be taken, such as applying warm water compresses, doing neck stretches, particularly before bedtime, drinking relaxing teas, and using aromatherapy.
After addressing the underlying issues causing bruxism, the next step is to reconstruct the damaged area of the tooth to eliminate any pain and sensitivity caused by the condition. In most cases, I perform a smile design while rebuilding the tooth to ensure the patient has a flawless smile without any discomfort.
Primero que todo debemos entender que el bruxismo es multifactorial, muchas veces es por estrés, por postura, por problemas de mordida, transitorio, etc. por lo tanto, lo primero es que nuestro odontólogo o nosotros mismos identifiquemos la causa.
5. Sensitivity tooth pain
Are you one of those people who experiences tooth pain just by looking at something cold like ice? If yes, then you have dental sensitivity. Although it’s not as severe as the pain caused by other dental issues, generalized dental sensitivity can still be very uncomfortable. The cause of this discomfort is usually thinning enamel due to consumption of acidic foods like vinegar and lemon, frequent use of whitening toothpastes that can harm enamel, among other factors.
How to fix it:
- Identifying and eliminating the cause of dental sensitivity is the first step to addressing the problem.
- After that, using toothpastes for sensitivity can help alleviate the issue. If whitening trays were used previously, neutral fluoride or specific gels for sensitivity (which can be purchased at pharmacies) can be used in the trays according to the instructions provided by the product’s manufacturer.
- Another piece of advice is to visit the dental office for fluoride application, which can add an extra layer of protection to your teeth by sealing the microtubules and preventing dental sensitivity.