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Tooth Pain: Types, Causes, and Remedies

Toothache Relief from Your Madison Family Dentists

Tooth pain is defined as any pain in or around your tooth, ranging from chronic or mild to sharp or excruciating. The number one cause of tooth pain is an untreated cavity, followed closely behind by gum disease. Other causes include disorders of the jaw joint, physical injury, infection, issues with a filling or crown, and even non-dental causes like sinus problems. A toothache can be triggered by anything from a sudden change in temperature to chewing food, unfortunately taking the fun out of your favorite meals.

Suffering from tooth pain or a toothache is uncomfortable and can interrupt the normal operations of your day. Even if your discomfort is only mild, you should still arrange for a dental exam to ensure the rest of your mouth is healthy. Our Madison family dentists have the knowledge and experience to uncover the cause of your tooth pain while relieving your discomfort. Since most tooth pain is indicative of a larger dental problem, it is best to schedule an appointment right away. 

Types of Tooth Pain

Hot CoffeeThough there are lots of other ways people describe their pain and discomfort, there are primarily two types of tooth pain: sharp or dull. Sharp tooth pain can be caused by decay, problems with your existing filling or crown, a broken cusp, clenching and grinding of your teeth (bruxism), and cold temperatures. Sharp tooth pain usually does not last long or linger. A dentist should be consulted for sharp tooth pain to rule out dental problems, remove decay, or fix the broken cusp and filling. 

Dull tooth pain is more serious than sharp pain because it is generally related to irreversibly damaged nerves inside the tooth. This pain is generally triggered by hot temperatures of foods and drinks, is felt for a long period of time, and originates from the nerve or pulp of the aching tooth. To relieve dull pain and correct the problem in the tooth, a root canal is typically required.

Sharp, dull, and temperature related tooth pain have different causes and different treatments. Read on to identify your symptoms, possible causes, and tooth pain relief options. Then make an appointment to see Total Care Dental in Madison before the pain gets any worse.

  • Sharp Toothache Causes

    For sharp pain when biting down, the cause may be decay, a loose filling, or a cracked tooth. See your dentist to diagnose the problem. Depending on the issue, you may need a filling replacement or a root canal for tooth pain relief. The onset of sharp pain is usually sudden, indicating an immediate problem for your oral health.
  • Dull Ache and Upper Teeth Pressure

    Your upper back teeth share nerves with your sinuses, which is why dull pain in your upper teeth may actually be from sinus pressure, not a dental problem. However, dull tooth pain can also be the result of clenching or grinding your teeth. Contact your dentist to determine the actual cause for toothache relief before the pain worsens. If you are not sure when the pain initially started, try to recall the earliest instance of when you noticed the pain. This will help us to determine potential causes.
  • Constant Pain and Pressure, Swelling, and Sensitivity to Touch

    Constant pain can indicate a tooth infection or abscess spreading from the pulp of the tooth into surrounded tissues and bone. This pain may manifest as dull or sharp, sometimes switching between the two. See your dentist right away as you may need a root canal. In the meantime, minimize the tooth pain with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or approved over-the-counter medications.
  • Sensitivity to Hot or Cold

    If you experience momentary pain from hot or cold food and liquids, there is probably not a serious problem with your teeth. The sensitivity may indicate a small area of decay, a loose filling, or an exposed root surface. While not usually as serious as unexplained pain, you should still arrange a meeting with your dentist to minimize your discomfort. 
  • If your teeth are sensitive to temperature after dental treatment, the dental work may have caused inflammation to the pulp tissue inside your tooth. The sensitivity may last a few days or even a week. For toothache relief, try a mild pain reliever like ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen.
  • If you have lingering pain after eating hot or cold food, the pulp inside your tooth may be inflamed or dying due to deep decay or an injury. See our dentists for treatment before an abscess forms and the pain becomes worse. Depending on the severity, the tooth will likely require a root canal.

Cold ice creamOther Causes of Tooth Pain

  • Abscess
  • Cavities
  • Dental Procedures
  • Gum Disease
  • Jaw Injuries
  • Infection
  • Cracked or Exposed Teeth

Tooth Pain After a Filling, Crown, or Root Canal

Dental procedures like fillings, crown or dental implant installation, and root canals may all lead to temporary tooth pain. Almost all dental procedures, including cleaning, can irritate the teeth and gums. Fortunately, any discomfort usually resolves itself within a few days. In some cases, pain may last longer.

Pain from a filling is usually a result of a change in your bite. Since the tooth is no longer the exact same height or size, it won’t fit perfectly with the surrounding teeth when you chew or talk. This discomfort usually passes as you get used to your new filling. In some cases, a small adjustment may be made to correct the bite.

Filings for very deep cavities may cause temperature sensitivity. It may take weeks before you are able to comfortably eat hot or cold foods. In cases where the cavity reached the root before being filled, the pulp may begin to die. A root canal will be necessary to fix the problem.

Crown and dental implant installations can cause soreness for several days. Having a tooth filed down or extracted and replaced is an ordeal for your mouth, so mild pain afterwards is to be expected. The discomfort will usually pass on its own. Like fillings, your bite may be different due to the new teeth and cause some pain. A quick adjustment will take care of this.

Root canals remove the nerve from a tooth and some tenderness is not unusual. If you have a crown added after your root canal, your bite height may be wrong and need adjustment. Otherwise, pain after a root canal should only last for a couple of days. The area around the root canal may be sensitive to temperature changes.

At Home Tooth Pain Remedies

If you have tooth pain you should see a dentist to resolve your dental problems and prevent the underlying issues from worsening. If you cannot see a dentist immediately, Total Care Dental would like to share a few at home tooth ache remedies which might offer temporary relief:

  • Icing Tooth PainAvoid chewing with the tooth when possible and eat soft foods
  • Reduce exposure to cold and hot foods/beverages
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water (add half a spoonful of salt and stir)
  • Brush and floss your teeth to remove food and other particles from the irritated area
  • Place an ice pack on the outside of your mouth near the tooth
  • Switch your toothpaste to one “for sensitive teeth”
  • Use acetaminophen or other pain relievers like Tylenol or aspirin
  • Use products for oral pain relief which contain benzocaine like Anbesol and Orajel
  • Clean the gum line gently with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste

These home remedies will not cure your tooth pain, but may temporarily reduce or relieve your pain. When you are experiencing tooth pain, visit our Madison Family Dentist and receive exceptional dental care and pain relief.

Have more questions about the causes and treatments of tooth pain? Check out our frequently asked questions about tooth pain!

Treating Tooth Pain with No Dental Insurance

Many people put off treating their tooth pain because they don’t have dental insurance. Total Care Dental provides many dental financing plans to help our patients afford they care they need. Don’t wait in pain any longer, schedule an appointment today.

Contact the dentist Madison, WI trusts to relieve tooth aches for a free assessment today!