Why do my teeth hurt?

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There are many reasons why your teeth hurt, and the discomfort can be both distracting and uncomfortable.

Regardless of whether you are suddenly experiencing pain in your teeth or have had the pain for some time, it’s important to address the problem so you can move forward in a pain-free way. Pinpointing the cause of your tooth pain can give you comfort knowing that there will be an end to your suffering and help you gain some relief.

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Below are some possible reasons why your teeth hurt as well as some ways to relieve the pain you are experiencing.

Tooth pain causes

Sinus pressure

It is possible to have tooth pain because of sinus pressure, also called sinusitis, building up in the maxillary sinuses located in the cheekbones. Sinus cavities often become inflamed due to a virus or bacteria. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control¹ finds that viruses cause nine out of 10 sinus infections, with bacteria causing one in 10 sinus infections. 

A virus might manifest as a cold or the flu, so on top of other symptoms you’re experiencing, you may also have seemingly unexplainable pain in your teeth.

A sinus toothache² may occur when fluid becomes trapped in the sinus cavities and leads to additional pressure, which may cause your teeth to hurt.

If you are looking for teeth pain relief because your sinuses have pressure building up, you can skip the doctor. Most sinus pressure resolves itself over time, but for quicker relief, over-the-counter medications such as nasal decongestants may help. 

If you have been able to relieve your sinus pressure but the tooth pain remains, it’s time to consider a trip to the dentist. 

Tooth pain and extreme heat or cold

If you have sensitive teeth, you might experience that sensitivity deeply when having hot or cold foods or beverages. Extreme temperatures can make sensitive teeth hurt.

Thankfully, removing the cause of the pain is relatively easy in this case. Avoiding food and drink that is either too hot or too cold can keep your sensitive teeth from experiencing tooth pain. 

However, it is important to address your problem with sensitive teeth at your next appointment, as it could be a sign of a bigger problem, such as a cavity or chipped tooth that has exposed tooth root.

Dry mouth

Many things can cause the condition, known as xerostomia, or dry mouth³, such as medications like painkillers and decongestants. Some people are also predisposed to dry mouth or experience it more as a side effect of aging. 

While dry mouth itself may not directly cause tooth pain, it can contribute to tooth decay which may cause your teeth to hurt. A dentist can examine your mouth and recommend ways to add moisture back to your mouth, such as through oral rinses. Combating dry mouth can prevent tooth decay and in turn keep away tooth pain. 

Side effects of quitting smoking

If you have decided to quit smoking, you’re on your way to improving your health. However, you still have to undo the damage that’s already been done. Smoking damages not only your lungs and throat, but can lead to several oral health problems such as: 

  • Gum inflammation

  • Tooth discoloration

  • Tooth decay

  • Oral infections such as periodontitis 

Some of these oral health problems, such as tooth sensitivity, may lead to tooth pain. Your dentist may have recommendations to help relieve the pain as you continue your journey towards a smoke-free lifestyle.  

Presence of infection

If you have developed an oral infection, your teeth may hurt due to inflamed gums, sensitivity from exposed tooth root, or an abscess, which is typically described as a pocket of pus due to a bacterial infection that has built up.

Aside from your teeth hurting, there are several other signs of infection⁴ to be aware of, such as swelling and sensitivity from pressure while chewing or biting into food. You might even experience problems not always considered as related to a tooth infection, like developing a fever or swelling in your lymph nodes.

Your dentist may have recommendations for treating infection and relieving your tooth pain, so be sure to schedule an appointment to get a proper diagnosis and start treatment right away. Failing to take care of a painful tooth problem could result in more costly measures down the root, such as a root canal.

How dental insurance helps with tooth pain

If your teeth hurt, there are a number of possible causes. Some are easier to treat than others, and some causes of tooth pain are easier to treat on your own, such as relieving sinus pressure through over-the-counter medications. Unfortunately, some things that cause tooth pain are quite serious, such as an infection in the tooth, gums, or jaw.

An important first step is to see a dentist to determine what is wrong and begin to take measures. Dental insurance plays an important role when it comes to maintaining your oral health. If you have a problem like chronic tooth pain and cannot wait until your next checkup to see your dentist, insurance can help reduce the cost of the additional visit.

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  1. https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/sinus-infection.html (Last accessed December 2019)

  2. https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/adult-oral-care/how-long-does-a-sinus-toothache-last-- (Last accessed December 2019)

  3. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/dry-mouth (Last accessed December 2019)

  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tooth-abscess/symptoms-causes/syc-20350901 (Last accessed December 2019)