If you suddenly feel a toothache or painful sensation in your gums, you are not alone.

According to a study in 2016, oral diseases affected 50% of the world’s population, with tooth decay being the most common condition.

If you are currently experiencing a toothache, there are two most likely causes: you’ve developed a tooth sensitivity, or you have infected the tooth. However, they are not the only possible causes. 

Here, we will discuss eight possible reasons why your teeth or gums are painful, and whether you need to contact a dental professional.

Enamel Erosion

Enamel-Erosion - Toothache

Enamel is the outermost, hard surface of your teeth. Its job is to coat your teeth and provide protection, but due to wear and tear, enamel can be cracked, exposing the dentin teeth’s softer, more sensitive inner part.

This condition is also called dentin hypersensitivity, and it’s quite common, affecting at least 12% of the U.S. population. 

The common cause of enamel erosion is due to impact, highly acidic and/or sugary diet, and brushing your teeth too hard. There are various treatments, such as dental veneer, that can be implemented to replace the worn enamel. However, if the tooth sensitivity is fairly mild, you can use toothpaste and toothbrush for sensitive teeth which can help relieve the condition. 

Gum Recession

Gum Recession

Your gums have a major function to cover the bones in your mouth and also protect the root of the tooth. The teeth’s roots are filled with many nerve endings, and when exposed, can cause mild to severe sensitivity and pain, as well as exposing your gums and teeth to infections.

Various causes can promote gum recession, but improper dental care is a major culprit. Mild gum recession can be treated professionally by your dentist with a procedure we call deep cleaning, removal of plaque and tartar below the gums.

However, if the gum recession is already severe, gum surgery might be required to reverse the damage.

Gum Infection

Gum Infection - Toothache

As discussed above, gum infections might be caused by gum recession, but not always. 

Gum infections are also called periodontitis; they always began with gum disease or gingivitis. While there are many possible causes of gum disease, it’s always about bacterial buildup causing irritation and inflammation. When left untreated, the bacteria will infect the gums, as well as the surrounding teeth and the jawbone.

Treatments for gum disease and gum infections will depend on the stage of the disease. If it’s fairly early, then a deep cleaning, as well as antibiotics treatment, are usually enough. In severe cases, surgery and a root canal procedure are necessary.

Sinus Infection

Sinus Infection

 Toothache is also one of the common symptoms of sinus infection or sinusitis. Sinuses are spaces filled with air in the cheekbones, forehead, and just under the inner corner of the eyes. 

The sinuses main job is to produce nasal mucus, but sometimes a fluid can get trapped inside the sinuses, promoting bacterial growth and causing infections. 

Since sinuses are not located in your mouth, it might seem strange that sinusitis can cause toothache. However, the sinuses in the cheekbones are close to the upper molars’ roots. So, when the sinuses are inflamed or infected, the brain can be confused and interpret the pain as coming from the upper molars instead. 

The best way to treat this is actually to treat your sinusitis. The dentist can determine whether the toothache is caused by a sinus infection, and might refer you to a specialist if necessary. 

Side Effects From Dental Procedures

Various dental treatments and procedures might cause mild and temporary sensitivity or pain during the healing process. 

This is especially true if the treatment involves drilling, surgery, or extraction. Drilling, for example, can temporarily make the nerve endings more sensitive than it should be, while surgery or extractions usually cause an open wound.

Commonly sensitivity and pain during treatment recovery should last no more than two weeks and should be manageable. If not, make a call to your dentist to schedule an examination, the might be complications related to the previous treatment.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening

Both professional bleaching at your dentist or using over-the-counter products might cause sensitivity during and after the treatment. 

This mainly happens when you use products containing peroxide. Peroxide will seep into your enamel, and “touch” the sensitive dentin and root beneath. 

Usually, the sensitivity will only occur during the early stages of the bleaching treatment, and it’s only temporary. If it occurs for too long or unmanageable, contact your dentist for relief.

Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth will produce a similar (or worse) effect to enamel erosion, exposing the dentin, causing pain and sensitivity.

If the crack is visible, then you can easily determine it as the culprit of your toothache. However, the crack can be soft and small, and nearly impossible to see with a naked eye.

If you maintain the habit of grinding your teeth, clenching your jaws too tightly, or brushing your teeth aggressively, among others, you might develop soft cracks on your teeth.

Tooth Decay

Last but not least, let us discuss the most common reason causing toothache: tooth decay, or dental caries.

Commonly, tooth decay is caused by bacterial buildup in your mouth. These bacteria will break down sugars contained in your foods and will produce acid during the breakdown process. This will increase the acidity in your mouth, that will cause decay, cavity, and ultimately, completely break your tooth. 

Decay will expose your tooth’s dentin and root, causing sensitivity at first and severe pain at later stages due to infections.

It’s better to get your tooth decay diagnosed as early as you can and treated quickly to reverse the effect.

End Words

Most causes for toothache can be prevented by maintaining proper oral hygiene, brushing your teeth twice a day, regular flossing, etc. 

However, there are areas that you can’t properly clean by yourself, and this is why having a professional to clean and examine your teeth is necessary.

Maintain a regular schedule to visit your dentist at least once every six months. This will also help in diagnosing potential issues as early as possible to avoid complications. 

Here at Markham Stouffville Smile Centre dentistry, we have a team of dental professionals that can’t wait to become your partner in oral hygiene. Make a call immediately and schedule an appointment. 


Helpful Resources:

1. The 10 Best Electric Toothbrush in 2019

2. The 2 Key Benefits Of Dental Health

3. Oral Health Essentials: 5 Ways to Stop Your Gums from Bleeding

4. Incredible Benefits of Coconut Oil for Keeping Your Teeth Healthy