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Sudden Tooth Pain? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

Sudden tooth pain is a warning signal. Your body is telling you that something is wrong, and it's time to seek care. Let's go over some potential causes and talk about your treatment options.

Tooth pain has been making grown men cry since the beginning of time. Nothing will have you begging for relief quicker, and there’s a reason for that. That horrific sensation you feel is a reminder that something is wrong with a vital part of your body: your head. It’s not to be ignored. It’s a sign that you need care. But don’t worry, most people experience sudden tooth pain at some point in their lives, and help is readily available.

What Causes Sudden Tooth Pain?

We tend to see our teeth as separate from our bodies–lifeless extrusions, incapable of sensation—but if you’re reading this, you probably know that’s not true. We don’t usually feel pain in that region because of the natural layers of protection surrounding its most sensitive parts. Those include the dentin beneath the outer enamel, the nerves at the center of each tooth, the roots, the bone, and the gums. When these areas are exposed or affected somehow, it leaves us vulnerable to damage, which is why the body sends out a warning signal in the form of pain. Here are a few common reasons why that might occur:

  • Tooth Decay: Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in our mouth create acid that wears away at the enamel. This can expose the nerves beneath, and it is known to lead to all sorts of dental issues. It is best to address it early. 
  • Tooth Fracture: Teeth break for all sorts of reasons. When the fracture enters the pulp where the nerves reside, you may need to undergo a root canal.  
  • Teeth Grinding: Teeth grinding can wear away at the enamel, exposing the dentin below. It can also lead to a chipped tooth or a fracture, which may require same-day care.
  • Tooth Abscess: A tooth abscess is a serious condition caused by the buildup of bacteria in the gums. It is an infection, and if left untreated, it will spread. 
  • Gum Disease: Gum disease is an infection that can spring up in the soft tissue around the teeth. If left untreated, it can spread to the bone below, causing teeth to fall out. 
  • Sinus Infection: Sinus infections irritate the roots of the upper back teeth. They’re a reminder that our teeth are not isolated from the rest of our body. 

Types of Tooth Pain

Patients might not want to hear this when they’re shrieking, pacing, and ready to tear their hair out. It won’t cure any panic attacks. But believe it or not, pain can actually be a good thing. It’s a road map that dentists use to find the problem, figure out which teeth might be affected, and whether the gums, roots, or bone might be involved. There are different types of pain, each one belonging to certain conditions, and they can be used as clues to make a proper diagnosis. Let’s take a look at them below. 

  • Dull Ache: Dull aches might not seem like much; in fact, patients often ignore them, but they shouldn’t. They’re a sign of an abscess, and they need to be addressed.  
  • Sharp Stabbing: Sharp stabbing could be an indication of a cavity or a crack in a tooth. Treatment for cracks may involve a dental crown.
  • Throbbing: Severe throbbing could be a sign that an infection has invaded the pulp where the nerves reside. This requires immediate care. If the throbbing comes and goes, it could be a symptom of a crack, a cavity, or gum disease. 

This list does not by any means represent the range of symptoms that patients experience when they have sudden tooth pain. There are medical symptoms to look out for as well. Fever and chills are particularly serious because they could be signs of a worsening infection. Pain that radiates to the ear, jaw, or neck could also be a sign of infection. 

Same Day Care at Healthy Smiles of Staten Island

If you are experiencing sudden tooth pain, your body is telling you that it is time to seek care. That’s not always convenient. Nobody wants to interrupt their lives to go to the dentist’s office. Many patients have trouble acknowledging that they have a problem. This could be a serious mistake. Most of the conditions responsible for sudden tooth pain are progressive. They get worse. A chipped tooth or a cavity could lead to an infection. An infection could lead to sepsis. This is not the time to put off treatment. 

Healthy Smiles of Staten Island has made every effort to make same-day care convenient and easy. If you need emergency services, you can call our 24-hour emergency service line (718) 948-1600 or fill out an emergency contact form. You can also go through our normal channels and schedule a regular visit.