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About Us < Dental Services < Initial Dental Exam < Tooth Pain: What's causing it?
  Dr Minh Nguyen
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Tooth pain-What's Causing It?



If you have tooth pain, you can use the chart below to give you some idea as to what the source of the pain might be. Bear in mind, though, that the intention of this chart is not to diagnose your pain; only our Houston dentist can do that.

When you contact your dentist regarding your tooth pain, it's important that you be as thorough as you can in your explanation of the pain—how severe it is, when you feel it, where it's located, and whether any conditions make it better or worse. That way, your Houston dentist will have a sense as to the urgency of your problem.

Symptom
You feel a sharp pain when you bite down.
Cause
Decay, a cracked tooth, or a loose filling can cause sharp pain in your tooth when you bite. You could also have an dental infection inside the pulp layer of your tooth; this is where the nerve exists.
Solution
A dentist should evaluate the tooth that's causing your discomfort to determine the source of the pain. If you have an infection within the pulp of your tooth, you will need root canal therapy to remove the infected tissue and seal off the space to prevent further infection.



Symptom
You have severe pain, pressure and swelling in your mouth that does not go away.
Cause
It is possible that you have an abscess, which is an infection in the tooth and/or gum and bone tissue.
Solution
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever until you can see our Houston dentist or endodontist (a specialist who treats injuries, diseases and infections of the tooth pulp) to evaluate and treat the infection.



Symptom
Your upper teeth and jaw ache, but the pain is not sharp or severe.
Cause
You may have a sinus headache or a sinus infection. Sinus pain can "travel" to the upper jaw because of its proximity to the sinus cavity.
Also, grinding your teeth (a condition called bruxism) can also cause a dull ache in the upper jaw, due to pressure on the temporomandibular joint (the TMJ).
Solution
Your physician can determine if the pain you are feeling is from a sinus infection, and can prescribe medication, if necessary. Over-the-counter pain relievers and sinus medications often are very effective in reducing sinus pain.
If your pain is due to bruxism, see our Houston dentist for treatment recommendations.



Symptom
You have pain in your head, neck or ear that does not go away.
Cause
Damaged or infected pulp tissue in your teeth can cause pain elsewhere in your head. However, there may be other medical or dental causes for the pain. Problems in your temporomandibular joint (the TMJ) can also cause this type of pain.
Solution
See our Houston dentist, who can tell you if the problem is tooth-related, or if it would be more appropriately treated by a physician. Your dentist can also diagnose any dysfunction that may be occurring in your TMJ and identify your treatment options for correcting it.



Symptom
After you receive dental treatment, your teeth are sensitive to heat or cold.
Cause
Temporary tooth sensitivity is normal after dental treatment, as it often disturbs the nerves within the pulp layer.
Solution
The pain should subside within four to six weeks. If it doesn't, or if it worsens, be sure to contact our Houston dentist.



Symptom
You suddenly feel some discomfort in your teeth when they're exposed to heat or cold, but then it goes away.
Cause
Slight sensitivity that only lasts a few moments usually means you have a loose filling, or a portion of your gums is pulling away slightly from your tooth, exposing a bit of the root surface. An exposed root surface usually results in tooth sensitivity.
Solution
You can try a toothpaste that is created especially for use on sensitive teeth; allow a week or two for it to begin easing the sensitivity. Also, be sure to use a soft toothbrush, and brush up and down in little circles to avoid damaging your gums. If you make these changes in your oral hygiene routine and the sensitivity persists, contact your dentist for an appointment.



Symptom
After you eat something hot or cold, you have lingering pain in one or more teeth.
Cause
Your tooth is likely damaged by either deep decay or a fracture to the tooth.
Solution
See your dentist as soon as possible. It is likely that you will need a crown or root canal therapy to save your tooth.

You may also be interested in:

Infection control in our Houston dental office
Nitrous oxide sedation (laughing gas)
The diagnostic process of your dental health
HIPPA Notice of Privacy Practice
Understanding dental insurance
Dental rubber dam
Oral cancer exam by your dentist
Sensitive teeth: the causes and treatment options
Dental bitewing x-rays
Complete series of dental x-rays
Panorex-panographic dental x-ray


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