You have an ache or sharp pains around your teeth and gums that you just can’t shake. It usually gets aggravated when you chew, or when you eat/drink very cold or very hot things. It just won’t go away. So what’s going on? While it’s possible that your tooth and jaw pain could be symptomatic of something like an ear infection, or even a heart disease (heart attack or angina), chances are that you’re in need of some dental attention. First thing’s first: make an appointment with your dentist ASAP. You could have one of the following issues:
A Cavity or Abscess
A dental cavity (a hole in the two outer layers of the tooth) is the most common cause of toothache, and one that is quite easily corrected. Small, shallow cavities tend to be painless, while deeper ones can catch food debris and irritate the inner living part of the tooth. Severe injury to the inner tissue of the tooth can result in infection (or abscess). This is one of the prime reasons for regular dental check-ups so that cavities can be caught in the early, pain-free stages.
Periodontal or gum disease is another common reason for a toothache. Gum disease is caused by severe inflammation of the gums and a loss of bone that holds your teeth in place; all as a result of plaque build-up. Again, in this case, the pain is symptomatic of a more advanced form of gum disease.
Exposure of the lower two thirds of your teeth (the area that should be embedded in bone and protected by the gums) can cause extreme sensitivity resulting in a more consistent pain. This is generally referred to as ‘recession’ and can range from mild (in which a sensitive toothpaste is prescribed), to more serious (in which bonding agents or in some cases, root canals are necessary).
If one (or many) of your teeth are broken (not as a result of a cavity or advanced gum disease), it is simply a cracked tooth requiring a crown, or depending on the severity, a full root canal. Broken teeth generally occur as a result of biting down on something hard. A great reason for not using your teeth as tools to open things or searching out olives in your salad!
It is quite likely that your toothache would not be a mystery if you have suffered a recent blow to the head/face, but there are other disorders that can cause harm to the jaw joint and surrounding muscles such as arthritis, or severe and consistent grinding.
Impaction or Eruption
When teeth are growing and moving, there can be associated pain. Eruption is when a tooth breaks the surface of the gums (as when it is growing in), and impaction refers to a tooth that has failed to emerge from its proper position; in this case, putting pressure on the surrounding teeth.
It is important that you do not try to self-diagnose a toothache. As mentioned, while the pain is a likely result of one of these dental issues, there could be more serious problems at hand and you do not want to delay. Tooth pain will not go away on its own, so book that appointment!