5 Different types of dental pain and what they may mean

Ever had that random dental pain and worry about what it might mean? Your teeth are trying to reach out to you – and this is what they might be trying to tell you:

Short sharp sensitivity to cold, or sweet

Examples:

That glass of cold water that causes you to wince or that ice block that you just can’t bite intoThe pain is short and sharp and is gone within seconds.

You tuck into some chocolate but every so often, in one part of the mouth, you get a short bit of sensitivity.

Possible cause:

Exposed tooth nerves causing dental pain. Nerves can become exposed fairly easily. All it takes is some gum recession or tooth decay to expose dentine. Within dentine there are tubules that connect the tooth nerve with your mouth (or that cold water).

Dull ache or throbbing

Example:

You’ve finished for the day, you head to bed and a throbbing ache starts in a tooth that was only niggling before.

You sit down to have your morning cup of coffee but the heat causes a tooth to really ache

Possible cause:

Inflamed or infected nerve. When nerves have been irritated for an extended amount of time or when they’ve passed the point of being temporarily irritated – tooth pain can come spontaneous and present ass a dull ache instead of a quick sharp pain

Aching pain that moves around

You have a hot tea and then the pain starts along the bottom left jaw and then moves to the top left as well. As annoying as it is you cannot tell where the pain is coming from.

Possible causes:

Inflamed or infected nerve causing radiating or referred pain. This radiating pain can sometimes come from multiple teeth or can be the just the one tooth causing pain that seems like it’s coming from multiple teeth.  Referred pain can move from the top to the bottom of one side but will never move from the left hand side of the mouth to the right and side (and vice versa)

Pain in the jaw joint or cheek muscles

You wake up tired and it feels like you’ve been using your cheek muscles all night as they’re very tight.

Your jaw joints are clicky and it’s very sore on the joint to open wide sometimes.  

Muscular pain around the mouth can come from many different reasons. Some can come from clenching or grinding and others can come from degeneration of the temporal mandibular joint (TMJ). Just like the diagnosis, treatment for muscular pain can really vary too – so proper diagnoses is key.

Dental pain around the sinuses

You’ve had a cold and your sinuses are sore. At the same time your top teeth feel weak and are sore to chew with.

When your sinuses are inflamed you can get referred pain to your top teeth as there is increased pressure at the roots of the top back tooth. This can feel like toothache but it is not as common – so as a rule if suspicious of any pain coming from the teeth it’s best to get it checked rather than assume it is coming from the sinus.   

Hopefully these tips allow you to interpret some of the messages your teeth are sending you. Although it’s good to know why you’re getting pain it’s another thing to try to get the problem fixed. Please let us know if you’re experiencing these symptoms so we can let you know how you can get you individual problem looked at, diagnosed and resolved.

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