Tooth pain

Man with tooth pain

Do you have tooth pain? When it comes to your dental health, things are often more than they seem at first glance. For instance, what seems like a minor tooth stain might actually be signs of internal tooth infection. Likewise, what seems like nothing more than minor toothache could actually be a sign of something more sinister, and ignoring it could mean trouble for your dental health. If your tooth hurts to any degree, then there’s a chance that your tooth is in serious trouble, and you should schedule an examination with your dentist as soon as possible. A dentist can help you find the cause of your tooth pain and offer a range of treatments or recommendations to help you live life normally as soon as possible.

Usually, when patients complain of tooth pain, a cavity, a fractured tooth, or other dental issue is at fault. However, toothache pain can sometimes occur from other physical conditions. When you consider the location of your teeth and teeth roots, it’s not surprising that they pick up symptoms from other areas of the face and head such as the jaw, sinuses, and nose. Continue reading to discover just what these surprising toothache sources can be. (Just remember, even if you think your toothache pain may be attributed to one of these conditions, it’s always important to have it checked out by your Chicago-area dentist!)

Types of tooth damage that will cause a tooth pain

When you experience tooth pain, the first thing Dr. Fondriest will check for is damage or deterioration to the crown or root of the tooth. This could be a cavity (or hole caused from decayed enamel), a crack, chipped, enamel, an inflamed or infected inner tooth, or more. By doing a physical examination as well as taking x-ray images, Dr. Fondriest can gain a complete view of the tooth and determine whether the cause of the pain is localized to the tooth’s structure. If something is wrong, Dr. Fondriest will create a treatment plan to eliminate the source of the pain and improve the functionality and health of your tooth in the future.

If tooth damage is not the cause of your pain, one of these other physical conditions could be to blame:

Tooth pain from periodontal ligament inflammation

Did you know you can “bruise” a tooth? Though a tooth may not show visible signs of bruising, they can create a comparable sensation after facing a large amount of pressure. Beneath the gum line, strong ligaments keep your teeth firmly in line, with help from the jaw bone. As a type of shock absorber, periodontal ligaments reduce the impact force that comes from chewing food or biting down. If they undergo a period of heavy shock absorption, its common for them to transfer feelings of tenderness or soreness to the teeth. Usually, this sensation can be brought on by:

  • Bruxism (or grinding your teeth at night)
  • A meal of very tough or crunchy foods
  • Chewing on fingernails
  • Dental treatment that requires the use of a dental bite block

Sinus Congestion

The sinuses are empty cavities in the face that not only help to create the tone of our voice, but produce mucus that keeps the nose wet and protected from environmental irritants. The bottom of your sinuses is directly above your upper molars’ roots—or in some cases, may actually intersect with the end of the molars’ roots. During allergy season, or during a bout of a cold or flu, the sinuses can become congested and inflamed. The pressure that builds within the sinus cavity from this congestion can be passed on to the teeth through the nearby roots. This pressure, much like that of periodontal ligament inflammation, can create tooth pain that feels very much like a toothache.

One way to tell if your tooth pain is caused by sinuses? Bend over and put your head between your knees. If the tooth pain becomes worse, it’s most likely caused by sinus pressure. If the toothache symptoms do not go away when the sinus congestion does, schedule an appointment with your Chicago dentist to identify the source of your tooth pain.

TMJ Disorders

Your temporomandibular joint is the “hinge” that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. Its mobility allows you to chew foods with both up and down and side to side motions, and allows you to speak and laugh with ease. However, the TMJ can cause pain when it is damaged or fatigued. Many patients identify TMJ pain by its common symptoms, including:

  • Discomfort or stiffness in the jaw or face when chewing, speaking, or opening the mouth
  • Facial muscle fatigue
  • Clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw
  • Jaw pain when chewing or biting due to chronic bruxism
  • Cold sensitivity from tooth grinding

Along with these symptoms, some patients have experienced tooth pain. The inflammation in the TMJ can easily spread to nearby muscles and ligaments that play a part in controlling the movement of the jaw, too. This inflammation in the face, jaw, and neck can be passed on to ligaments within the mouth and present symptoms quite similar to a toothache. For patients with diagnosed TMJ disorders, tooth pain could be a secondary symptom, especially for those people with a history of teeth grinding and clenching. Teeth grinding (or bruxism) is a contributing factor for many patients’ TMJ disorder and can also cause sore, sensitive or painful teeth.  For patients who unconsciously grind their teeth at night, our Lake Forest dental team can fit a custom oral appliance to prevent further damage to the teeth and TMJ, in effect reducing future TMD toothaches.

Find Lasting Tooth Pain Relief

In most cases, a toothache is more than just the pain you experience, but also an underlying risk to your dental or overall health. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling us at 847-234-0517. We also proudly serve residents of the greater Chicago area and from across the United States.