What’s Behind that Toothache? Skip to main content

What’s Behind that Toothache?

Most people experience tooth sensitivity or pain from time to time, but how do you know whether that discomfort is something to investigate? Here are a few types of tooth pain and possible causes:

Sensitivity to hot or cold foods – Delta Dental says that at least 45 million American adults suffer from sensitive teeth. This could be due to enamel wearing down or gum recession. If your teeth are frequently sensitive to hot or cold foods or beverages, or even to air, you should talk with your dentist about how to fix the problem and manage any pain.

Sharp pain when chewing – If you feel a sudden or sharp pain when biting down, it’s possible that you have a cracked tooth. If the crack penetrates the root of the tooth, the pain will likely be severe and you may need a root canal. Your dentist can help diagnose the problem and advise appropriate treatment.

Pain in the back of the mouth – If you’re feeling pain behind your molars, or notice your back gums looking enflamed or tender, your wisdom teeth might be coming in. Sometimes, wisdom teeth start to poke through the gums. Other times, the teeth are impacted, which means they cannot emerge because they’re being blocked by the  jaw bone or other teeth. For obvious reasons, this will cause discomfort in your back teeth and possibly even your jaw. Your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon, who can talk with you about extraction options.

Severe, throbbing pain on a specific tooth – A severe toothache that throbs or shoots pain when you bite could be an abscessed tooth. Generally, a tooth abscess is caused by severe tooth decay, but it can also be caused by a broken tooth, gingivitis, or gum disease. These problems break down tooth enamel, allowing bacteria to infect the tooth’s center. A tooth abscess might also be accompanied by a fever, swollen neck glands, or a swollen jaw. Treatment might include a root canal, root surgery, or a dental implant.

Jaw pain – If your tooth pain is accompanied by a tight or sore jaw, you might have an issue such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. If your jaw clicks when you chew, if you’ve had your jaw “lock” before when yawning, or if you grind your teeth in your sleep, schedule a consultation with an orthodontist to determine the right course of treatment—whether that’s orthodontics or a surgical option with an oral surgeon.

If you’re having tooth pain, visit your dentist right away. They can help pinpoint the problem and point you in the right direction for treatment—whether that’s in their office, with an orthodontist, or here at Bergen Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.

If you have questions, don’t hesitate to call us at one of our offices: Hackensack: 201.343.8297, Westwood: 201.664.5656, or Ridgewood: 201.444.4137.

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