Why Cavities Might Not Be the Source of Your Pain

Our Dental Blog | Child Dentistry | 10.28.2020

It isn’t uncommon.

A Canadian Health Measures Survey asked over 5000 participants to describe their experiences with oral pain over a range of 12 months.

Roughly 12% (1 out of 8) of respondents reported experiencing tooth or gum pain with slightly more prevalence among females compared to males.

Unsuspectingly, however, the study notes that young adults were among the highest reporting group and adolescents among the lowest.

But what is the source of oral pain? Is it always tooth decay? What can parents do to help themselves or their children get back to comfort?

How Teeth Experience Pain

You wouldn’t expect the hardest material in human bodies to be so susceptible to pain. Able to make any grown man wince, dental discomfort is no laughing matter.

In fact, tooth pain is necessary for both you and your dentist to understand sometimes complex oral health situation.

Just ask Julius Manz, director of the dental hygiene program at San Juan College, New Mexico.

“If you eat something too hot or chew something too cold, or if the tooth is worn down enough where the underlying tissue underneath is exposed, all of those things cause pain, and then the pain causes the person not to use that tooth to try to protect it a little bit more. So, it is really a protective mechanism more than anything,

But how does your tooth experience pain? You might not feel much flicking your tooth with a finger, but a bite into a scoop of ice cream can have you gripping your jaw. What’s the deal?

Well, it comes down to the layers of your teeth and what they do.

Starting from the outermost layer, your hard-white enamel is a non-living structure. By this, we mean that no blood supply is needed for enamel to continue to exist. This layer, therefore, does not have any receptors to feeling pain and enamel acts as a protective barrier.

This is why dentists are so involved with helping to preserve your teeth’s enamel! Travelling inward, we have two more layers. The middle is a fluid-like substance known as dentin (which is alive but without nerves), and the final center of your tooth, the pulp.

It is here where we find the root of our issue (we promise that is the only dentist pun in this post). The pulp is where the tooth connects to your bloodstream for vital nutrients, as well as containing our nerves meant for protecting our teeth.

While these nerves cannot experience hot nor cold sensations, they can translate temperatures as pain.

Tooth decay is usually the first suspect dentists will look for, however, as mentioned, it isn’t the only reason why your teeth could be in pain.

Unfortunately, Other Sources of Pain

It isn’t just the tooth nerves that can feel pain.

Just below your tooth is your periodontal ligament. The purpose of this ligament is to attach the tooth to your jawbone and monitor the sense of chewing, ensuring we can feel our teeth line up.

It is the periodontal ligament that is usually the source of pain during orthodontic treatments.

With all these nerves and ligaments interconnected, it is obvious to see how pain can often become unbearable for patients experiencing extreme symptoms.

Pain can be caused by numerous origins, such as tooth decay, abscessed teeth, a damaged filling, bruxism or grinding, receded gums, as well as periodontal infections.

When Should You See a Dentist?

We always recommend our clients report in immediately if they are experiencing unusual tooth pain. However, in some cases, tooth pain may be fleeting or mild.

So, how can you be sure when to see your dentist?

If your toothache is altering your eating habits, has lasted for more than 24-48 hours, or if your tooth pain is accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever or earaches, you should seek attention as soon as possible.

Are You Experiencing Pain?

Chances are, if you’ve been reading this in its entirety, you’re probably looking for a solution to your tooth pain or that of your loved one.

If this is the case, don’t wait to see what home remedies may fix your pain. Often, leaving dental health issues to their own devices will only exacerbate the issue. And of course, no one wants a root canal.

Give Treehouse Dental Care a call today to discuss options for your tooth pain. We’ll help you walk through all the possibilities with an in-depth examination and treatment path designed specifically for your situation.

Everyone’s dental health is personal, and we will make sure to find what is unique to your pain and treat it with the best course of action.

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