One of the most common reasons people visit the dentist is to treat their tooth pain. Also referred to as a toothache, tooth pain is a sign that something may be awry. For example, you may experience pain because of a cavity that you did not know about. Other times, pain that you think is coming from a tooth may actually be referred pain– pain that originates from one area but is also felt in another part of the body. In either case, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can to prevent it from getting worse.

5 Possible Causes of Tooth Pain

Toothaches may be caused by a multitude of things, but the more commonly diagnosed issues include (but are not limited to) the following:

1. Loose Filling: Fillings are the material used to help fill up the cavity in a tooth, and sometimes they can become loose. This causes the nerve to become more exposed, leading to hot and cold sensitivity (pain when eating and drinking hot or cold food and drinks) and tooth pain in general.

2. Dental Cavities (Tooth Decay): Having dental cavities usually causes a toothache, and when it does, the pain can feel like an aggravating, dull-yet-sharp pain and make it hard to bite down and in some cases it causes difficulty speaking.

3. Dental Infection: Generally accompanied by swelling of the surrounding gum tissue, redness, severe pain, pus and/or fever. Dental infections need to be treated as soon as you suspect you have one in order to prevent it from spreading.

4. Recent Dental Treatment: Some dental treatments may cause pain following the procedure, and this is typically normal. If pain gets worse, a fever develops, and/or you see pus coming from the area that was treated, call your dentist.

5. Referred Pain/TMD/Sinus Infection: If you are experiencing pain but the dentist can’t quite pinpoint any problematic teeth or soft tissue (gums, cheeks, tongue, floor and roof of the mouth), it may be due to referred pain. This can occur if you experience pain in the sinuses or surrounding muscles. It can make you think it is coming from your tooth, but in reality, it’s actually coming from somewhere else. People that suffer from temporomandibular disorder (TMD/”TMJ”) or a sinus infection may experience this.

How To Manage Tooth Pain

In all cases of tooth pain, always schedule a dental appointment just to rule out anything sinister and treat any existing dental conditions before they worsen. In the meantime, try some of these suggestions to ease your pain:

a) Take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever/fever reducer. This will ease pain for the time being and hold you over until you can get into your dentist’s office. Beware—if you have taken prescription drugs, make sure to ask your dentist or doctor if it is safe to take additional OTC medication.

b) For tooth sensitivity, use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth such as Sensodyne to reduce and relieve tooth pain caused by hot and cold food/beverages.

c) Try using a cold compress such as an ice pack. This will help reduce both pain and swelling when applied to the cheek closest to the affected tooth. A cold compress is generally helpful for any of the aforementioned tooth pain causes.

d)  Contact your dentist to see if it is safe (in your specific case) to use an OTC oral anesthetic gel such as Orajel. This will help relieve severe pain when it is applied as directed.

Remember: the most important thing to do when you are experiencing any sort of tooth pain is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. Advanced DDS is a full-service premier dental practice in Garden City, NY where our team of doctors provide exceptional care in a safe, socially-distanced environment. Schedule your dental appointment as soon as possible at 516-825-1100.

Infographic describing treatments and causes for tooth pain

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