What Causes a Toothache?
Toothaches can be a debilitating and painful experience, often making it difficult to eat, sleep, and perform daily activities. There are several causes of toothaches, each with unique symptoms and treatment options.
Here we explore what causes a toothache and provide information on identifying them with their symptoms.
11 Main Reasons as To What Causes a Toothache
Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of toothaches. It occurs when the bacteria in the mouth produce acids that erode the tooth enamel, leading to cavities. When left untreated, cavities can eventually reach the tooth’s inner layers, causing severe pain and sensitivity.
The symptoms of tooth decay include visible holes in the teeth, bad breath, and a bitter taste in the mouth.
An abscessed tooth occurs when an infection develops in the tooth or gums, causing a buildup of pus. This can result from a deep cavity, gum disease, or trauma to the tooth.
Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include severe pain, swelling in the gums or face, fever, and a bad taste in the mouth. It is essential to seek treatment for an abscessed tooth as soon as possible, as the infection can spread to other body parts if left untreated.
A damaged filling can also cause toothaches. Fillings repair teeth that are damaged by decay or trauma.
When a filling becomes loose or falls out, the tooth can become sensitive to hot or cold temperatures and painful when biting down. Therefore, seeing a dentist as soon as possible is vital if a filling becomes damaged, as this can lead to further decay and tooth damage.
Repetitive motion can also cause toothaches, particularly in people who clench their jaws and grind their teeth. This can put pressure on the teeth and lead to pain, sensitivity, and even damage to the teeth.
Repetitive motion symptoms include jaw pain, headaches, and worn-down teeth.
A gum infection undoubtedly can cause a toothache. They are usually caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the gums, which can cause the gums to become inflamed and infected.
Gum infection symptoms include red, swollen, bleeding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth. Therefore, if you suspect you have a gum infection, visit your dentist asap, as this can further damage the gums and teeth.
Teeth Eruption from Gums
Teeth erupting from the gums, for example, wisdom teeth, can also cause toothaches. In addition, children who are teething are susceptible to toothaches. Along with the toothache, the gums will become swollen and tender, making it painful to eat or drink.
Symptoms of teeth eruption from the gums include swollen or red gums, drooling, and irritability.
Colds, Flu’s and Sinusitis
Colds, flu, and sinusitis are all respiratory infections that can cause various symptoms, including toothache. The toothache that occurs with these infections is usually due to pressure changes and inflammation in the sinuses, which are located near the roots of the upper teeth.
When an ear is infected, the swelling caused by the infection can cause tooth pain.
TMJ, Disorder of The Jaw
TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder affects the joints and muscles of the jaw. It can cause various symptoms, including jaw pain, headaches, and a clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth. In some cases, TMJ disorder can also cause a toothache.
When the temporomandibular joint is not functioning correctly, it can pressure the surrounding muscles and nerves. This can lead to pain and discomfort radiating to other facial areas, including the teeth. In addition, TMJ disorder can cause changes in the bite, which can put extra pressure on specific teeth and cause them to become sensitive or painful.
The pain caused by TMJ disorder is often described as a dull ache accompanied by tightness or stiffness in the jaw muscles. Sometimes, the pain may be intermittent or come and go, making it challenging to identify the exact cause of the toothache.
Clusters and migraines (neurovascular headaches) can cause referred tooth pain or ‘neurovascular toothaches.’
The exact mechanism by which migraines cause toothache is not well understood, but there are a few theories. One possibility is that the nerves that supply the teeth and gums become sensitized during a migraine attack, leading to a sensation of pain in the teeth. Another thought is that the muscles that control the jaw and bite become tense during a migraine, putting pressure on the teeth and causing pain.
The Vagus Nerve
The vagus nerve is one of the longest nerves in the body, passes through the lower jaw and has many vital functions, including regulating heart rate, breathing, and digestion. It also transmits pain signals from various body parts, including the head and face. In some cases, stimulation of the vagus nerve can cause toothache.
One possible mechanism by which the vagus nerve can cause a toothache is its connection to the trigeminal nerve, which transmits pain signals from the face to the brain. The vagus nerve has a branch that connects to the trigeminal nerve, and when the vagus nerve is stimulated, it can activate the trigeminal nerve and cause pain in the teeth or jaw.
Another possible mechanism is the vagus nerve’s role in regulating blood flow to the head and face. When the vagus nerve is activated, it can cause blood vessels in the head and face to dilate or constrict, leading to blood flow changes that can cause pain in the teeth or jaw.
Many factors can stimulate the vagus nerve and cause a toothache, including stress, anxiety, and certain medications. In some cases, dental problems such as cavities or gum disease can also stimulate the vagus nerve and cause pain in the teeth or jaw.
If the vagus nerve is causing a toothache, it’s vital to get it checked immediately, as pain caused by the vagus nerve can indicate lung or heart problems.
So, What Causes a Toothache?
As we have explored what causes a toothache and the 11 reasons you may be experiencing tooth pain; it is vital to see a dentist immediately if you experience any of the symptoms listed above, as toothaches can lead to further damage and infection if left untreated.
By maintaining good oral hygiene, regularly visiting the dentist, and seeking treatment for any dental problems, you can help prevent toothaches and ensure your teeth and gums stay healthy for years.
Contact Suburban Essex Dental today for both general and family dental services. Dr. Paul Feldman is rated a top NJ dentist. We look forward to discussing more what causes a toothache. In addition, your dental issues and general dental health.