What Causes Tooth Pain? 7 Possibilities That Don’t Include A Cavity

what causes tooth pain

Are you wondering why your teeth are hurting? While there’s a chance it could be caries, your tooth pain could be the result of something else that’s going on in your life. So, what could it be? What causes tooth pain? Let’s take a look.

#1 Blocked sinus or infection

The maxillary sinus is located just above the back teeth in the upper jaw and sometimes the nerves from the back molars may actually be located within the sinus chamber. Inflammation and infection in the maxillary sinuses can place pressure on tooth nerves which a person mistakenly interprets as tooth pain. Nasal decongestant sprays and a course of antibiotics should help clear the sinus and ease any pain.

#2 Possible heart disease

While we don’t wish to alarm anyone, tooth pain can, in some cases, be a warning sign of a heart attack. Heart disease can cause tooth pain because of the location of the vagus nerve which extends from the brain and runs down to the heart via the jaws alongside the teeth.
When this nerve becomes inflamed it can feel as if the pain is coming from the teeth. If tooth pain is accompanied by heart palpitations, shortage of breath, sweating or chest pain, you should visit your local emergency room as soon as you can.

#3 Teeth whitening

Teeth whitening can cause tooth sensitivity. Fortunately, it’s usually a temporary thing and will disappear of its own accord within a few days. Teeth whitening at home with over-the-counter products can be unpredictable. For safe, long-lasting teeth whitening , dentist-led teeth whitening is recommended. A dentist can adjust the strength of the whitening gel to lessen tooth sensitivity and make the procedure more comfortable

#4 Over-exertion

Endurance training has gained popularity in recent years, with more people engaging in activities like swimming, power walking, biking, dancing, and playing sports. This form of high-intensity exercise aims to enhance overall health by maintaining the heart, lungs, and circulatory system in optimal condition, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

However numerous studies have shown that participating in endurance sports can impact dental health, affecting enamel, saliva flow, and increasing the risk of caries. The intensity of the workout schedule appears to correlate with a higher chance of developing tooth decay. While the exact cause remains uncertain, scientists believe that changes in saliva due to strenuous exercise may contribute to oral health issues.

#5 Nerve damage

While it’s relatively rare, a condition known as trigeminal neuralgia could be what causes tooth pain in your case. Known as TN, this is a chronic pain disorder that causes sudden and severe facial pain. Affecting the trigeminal nerve which provides feelings and nerve signals to parts of the face and head, the attacks usually last a couple of seconds but can last longer and may occur several times a day. The attacks can occur anywhere on the head and face, including the teeth and gums. The pain can be triggered by blowing the nose, eating, talking, touching the cheek such as when applying make-up or shaving, and exposure to the wind. Treatment generally involves medication, Botox, and in extreme cases, surgery.

#6 An overly acidic diet

They say you are what you eat, and this is particularly true when it comes to teeth and gums. Foods high in sugar and acid gradually erode enamel, leaving the teeth less protected. The worse culprits include carbonated soft drinks, sticky candies and sweets, substances that dry out the mouth like alcohol and certain medications, and starchy foods that can get stuck in between the teeth.

To help protect your tooth enamel from bacteria and acid attacks, the ADA recommends drinking more water throughout the day to flush away food particles, and eating sugary foods with meals. This produces more saliva that helps lower acid production and rinse food residue from the teeth. It’s also recommended to avoid snacks in between meals or, if you must have something, reach for a nutritious treat. Chewing sugar-free gum is a great idea as well, since it helps produce more saliva.

#7 Teeth grinding causes tooth pain

Grinding and clenching the teeth (Bruxism) is a condition that affects around 8% of the population and because it often occurs during the night, we’re not always aware that we do it. Bruxism can be caused by many factors, including a misaligned bite, a sleep disorder, or missing teeth. One sign that you may grind your teeth is if you constantly wake up in the morning with sore teeth and an aching jaw. Another more visible sign is finding grit in your mouth which is actually small pieces of tooth enamel that have broken off. Wearing a mouthguard at night can help prevent further damage.

Are you suffering from tooth pain?

If you’re suffering from unexplained tooth pain we’re here to help. At Mint Dental, we’ve got a great team of experienced, skilled dentists and provide a wide range of services utilizing the latest technologies and techniques. Call us at (907) 318-1560 or book online.  We offer same-day appointments for urgent cases.




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