Why does my tooth hurt?

teeth extractions

There are many reasons for your tooth hurt. You might experience unpleasant sensations from your teeth. Some of these may be sensitivity, pain or aches from weakened teeth, receding gums, cracks, fractures, decay, infection, cavities (holes) or trauma.

Symptoms may manifest as sensitivity, sharp pains or dull aches. These may be transient and in response to particular factors like temperature or pressure, or symptoms may come on spontaneously and linger, with no apparent cause.

It is important to try and recognise the level and type of pain, when and how it worsens, what alleviates it and for how long it has been tender in order to assist with diagnoses.

A lack of symptoms doesn’t always mean a tooth is fit and healthy. It is very common to have no symptoms until the later stages of decay and infection. As such, the earlier an issue is identified, the better the chance it has for a good outcome. Generally speaking, when problems are detected early, there are greater options for treatment and the treatment is less invasive and less costly. So, it is best to stay on top of your general check-ups and see the dentist as soon as you experience something out of the ordinary.

Delaying treatment is never a good idea, even if your symptoms seem to have settled down.

Sometimes pain may have dissipated, but often there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed. Inaction may mean that the underlying problem will persist and worsen.

Painkillers or antibiotics may give temporary relief, but this is not treatment and does not mean the problem is fixed. If the underlying cause of the pain is not addressed, the toothache may very well return (sometimes it will return tenfold). In more serious cases, you may even run the risk of any present infection spreading.

One common cause of toothache is sensitivity, which may be due to receding gums or cavities. Symptoms are often experienced in response to cold or sweet foods and drinks. Another common experience is an ache that throbs and affects your sleep. This may indicate that bacteria in a tooth has reached and affected the nerve, and you may very well require root canal treatment.

The human body is a somewhat unpredictable being and writing an exhaustive list of ailments is very difficult, but your dentist will assess your teeth and give you all possible treatment options.

It is strongly recommended you practice good oral hygiene and see your dentist every six months for routine examinations. This ensures that you have optimum oral health and any concerning signs or symptoms are detected early by your dentist and treated in the simpler stages.

Dr Alysha Soltys
General Dentist
BBiomed (Melb), DDS (Melb)