why your teeth hurt

A toothache ranks as one of the most uncomfortable pains you can have. Even worse, they are as abrupt as they are disruptive. In this article, we will look at the reasons why your teeth hurt, how to avoid constant toothaches and how to stop the pains.

Types of pain

At the onset of a toothache, you may notice it in three forms.

Sharp tooth pain

Sudden sharp tooth pain may be caused by the food remains coming in contact with a decayed and exposed area of the tooth. The severe pain is generated when there is a sudden pressure on the nerve ending of the exposed part of the tooth.

Achy tooth pain

Also known as a throbbing pain, achy tooth pain may be caused by constant grinding or constant clenching of the teeth. Typically, if you experience achy tooth pain for extended periods, you may be suffering from a dental infection.

Gum pain

Gum pain may be as a result of a condition known as gingivitis- an inflammation of the gums. If it goes unchecked, gingivitis flares up to a more severe condition called periodontitis. This condition affects the attachment fibres and underlying bone structure of the tooth. Poor dental hygiene mostly causes gingivitis.

Why Teeth Hurt

There are many causes of tooth pain. Knowing what is causing your teeth to hurt requires the attention of a dentist. Here are some of the reasons why you may be experiencing a toothache.

Sensitive Teeth

You may notice that you suffer from a toothache when you take hot or cold foods and drinks. Your teeth are an intricate network of tubes housed by a hard outer lining- the enamel. Over time, the enamel is corroded, exposing the nerve endings to temporal changes, which cause pain.

Brush Too Hard

Brushing your teeth too hard erodes the protective layer of the tooth or leads to a receding gum line. This exposes the softer layer of your teeth to cold air or hot and cold drinks, leading to pain. Toothbrushes with hard bristles also contribute to this problem.

Gum Infection

Poor dental hygiene causes a buildup of bacteria commonly known as plaque. Plaque covers the teeth as it is sticky. It also causes infections of the gum and may even affect the jaw bone if left untreated. Other factors that could cause gum infection include immune-suppressive ailments, hormonal changes, and genetic factors.

Tooth Trauma

Dental trauma occurs when there is a substantial impact in the dental region. It may result in loose, chipped or cracked teeth, or complete displacement of the teeth. Sometimes, it only affects a small area. You need to get checked for extensive trauma by a qualified professional.

what to do if your teeth hurt, savina dental clinics

A Cold Or Flu

Colds and flu affect the sinus area. The sinus shares nerves with a section of the upper teeth. When you have a cold or the flu, you may experience a toothache in that area and just behind the eye.

Sinus Infection

The sinus is an air cavity in the nasal passage. The maxillary sinus, the sinus on the sides of the nose, when infected or under pressure, cause molar sensitivity resulting in pain.

You Grind Or Clench Your Teeth While Sleeping

Grinding your teeth, particularly while sleeping is a common symptom of sleep apnea – sleep apnea is not just disruption of sleep, it’s lack of oxygen reaching the brain during sleep caused by snoring and which leads to disruptive sleep patterns. Other causes might include anxiety and jaw tension.

Recently Done Fillings or Drillings

A post-filling or a post-drilling toothache is normal and should subside in a few days. However, sharp pain or sensitivity indicates a problem with the placement of the filling or nerve exposure.

Cracked Tooth

Cracked teeth are caused by massive trauma to the enamel or constant grinding. Cracks in the teeth cause erratic pains or sensitivity to extreme temperatures.

A Cavity

Cavities are infected spaces left on teeth caused by acidic erosion of the crown and the enamel of the teeth. These acids come about after the breakdown of foods and sugary drinks. Deeper cavities expose nerve endings, causing mild to extreme pain.

Too Much Exercise

Too much exercise can be harmful to your teeth. This may be due to intense jaw clenching or lack of saliva and general dehydration. The bacteria in the teeth produce acid, which erodes the enamel, leading to nerve exposure. Since exercise causes accelerated dehydration in the mouth, bacteria thrive better in this environment.

An Abscess

An abscess is a pocket of pus made up of dead white blood cells, tissue and reproducing bacteria. A tooth abscess is an infection at the root of the tooth that originates from the pulp chamber. You can either have a tooth abscess (periapical abscess) or a gum abscess (periodontal abscess).

Your Wisdom Teeth Are Coming In

Wisdom teeth are a set of molars that sprout between the ages of 17 and 21. In most cases, they come in painfully. The pain, however, subsides in a few days. In severe cases, or if there isn’t enough room, the onset of wisdom teeth can cause an infection, cysts, or gum infection.

You Clench Your Jaw When You’re Stressed

Clenching your jaw when you are stressed is common. However, persistent stress-induced jaw clenching causes neck pain, tooth fractures, and loose teeth. Clenching your jaw may also lead to teeth grinding.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction

The Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a connector joint between the jaw and the temporal bones of the skull. TMJ dysfunction is a condition that affects this rotator joint. TMJ pain does not cause dental pain per se, but it can be the cause of vague pains around the posterior part of the mouth.

How Do I Know What’s Causing My Teeth to Hurt?

The best way to know why your teeth hurt is through an examination done by your dentist as self-diagnosis may result in more damage. Upon inspection, usually through special equipment, we can assist you to know the root of your pain.

How to Stop a Toothache

A toothache can occur at any time. Although you can try fast relief methods or home remedies, those are only temporary.

  • Get checked by a certified dentist. Always seek immediate help from your dentist as soon as you can. We have a team of qualified professionals that will help you with all your dental needs.
  • Follow your dentist’s advice.It is crucial that you adhere to basic oral hygiene standards
  • Avoid sugar-rich foods and drinks
  • Stay hydrated
  • Brush your teeth with gentle dental products twice a day
  • Floss regularly
  • Have bi-annual dental cleanups
  • Avoid stress
  • Avoid smoking or drugs that dehydrate you

Have You Tried Our Free e-Consultation Service?

If you are worried about a dental related issue, interested in travelling to Malta for a dental holiday or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Dr Joseph Xuereb
Dental & Implant Surgeon. Principal
Savina Dental Clinics

Joseph Xuereb
Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.