A toothache is not a discreet malady. If you have one, you know. In fact, a sensitive tooth can make itself known so forcefully that some women consider it second only to childbirth in terms of pain. As pronounced as a toothache is, however, it is not a specific dental issue. Rather, tooth sensitivity is a symptom that can indicate a number of different issues, and treating it depends on its source.
Why Does Your Tooth Hurt?
- Cavities — Tooth decay may not be the most common reason behind toothaches, but cavities are arguably the most well-known cause. Also called dental caries, cavities are small holes that form in your teeth when the enamel has been damaged or weakened. The layer of tooth directly underneath tooth enamel, called dentin, comprises the main part of your tooth and contains small tubes that lead to the tooth’s pulp at the center. These tubes deliver sensory information to the nerves housed in the pulp, so when enamel is damaged, the resulting cavities can often cause tooth sensitivity. If left unchecked, tooth decay will continue to eat away at your tooth until you lose it or it requires extraction.
- Gum disease — As the name suggests, gum disease is a bacterial infection that affects your soft gum tissue. The beginning of gum disease (the first stage is called gingivitis) is marked by red and swollen gums. Continued irritation causes the gums to separate from the teeth, its connective tissue destroyed by the disease. Receding gums expose your tooth’s roots, which can cause severe discomfort, especially when irritated by hot or cold.
- Sinus infection — A stuffy or runny nose is not the only symptom of a sinus infection. When your sinuses are infected, the soft mucosal lining of the hollow sinuses become inflamed and swollen. The maxillary sinuses, which are located dangerously close to the roots of your upper teeth, are the largest of the hollow sinus chambers. When maxillary sinuses swell, the discomfort can be felt in the nearby tooth roots and often confused with dental issues.
Whether your tooth is slightly sensitive or in severe pain, your toothache may not go away until you seek appropriate treatment. Schedule dental exam with one of our experts as soon as possible by calling our Spring, TX, dentist’s office on Cypresswood Drive or in Auburn Lakes at 281-320-2000.