As the name suggests, a toothache describes discomfort in and/or around your tooth. A symptom rather than a dental condition, tooth sensitivity can indicate a number of different issues, most dental and some not. Treating your toothache depends on the cause; so naturally, diagnosing the aching tooth should be the first priority. To help you…
As the name suggests, a toothache describes discomfort in and/or around your tooth. A symptom rather than a dental condition, tooth sensitivity can indicate a number of different issues, most dental and some not. Treating your toothache depends on the cause; so naturally, diagnosing the aching tooth should be the first priority. To help you determine the nature of your discomfort, Knoxville family dentist, Dr. Jim Erpenbach, explains some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth.
Why Does Your Tooth Hurt?
- Tooth decay—Quite often, a toothache indicates exposure of sensitive tooth tissue. Your tooth is surrounded by enamel, the strongest substance your body produces. However, enamel is subject to acid erosion (demineralization), which renders it too weak to repel bacteria and protect your tooth. Demineralization, a precursor to cavities, does not typically cause discomfort, but when the enamel is thin enough, bacteria and food debris can irritate the underlying dentin. Softer than enamel, dentin has small tubules that send sensory information to the nerves housed in the tooth’s pulp. Treating tooth decay typically involves removing the infected tooth tissue and replacing it with a dental filling. In severe cases, a root canal treatment or extraction may be necessary to prevent the spread of infection.
- Gum disease—With over 80% of American adults affected by gumdisease, some may consider it a trivial infection. Left untreated, however, gum disease targets your teeth’s supporting structures, such as gum tissue and your jawbone. As the disease progresses, your gums separate from your teeth, creating small pockets where bacteria gather and continue their destruction. Receding gums expose your teeth’s roots, which are not protected by enamel and are immediately vulnerable to irritation, infection, and disease.
- Sinus infection—Though not a dental issue, sinusitis is also a common cause for tooth sensitivity. Your sinuses comprise a series of hollow chambers throughout your nasal and cheek area that are lined with tissue similar to the mucosa that lines your mouth. When this tissue is infected, it becomes inflamed. Your largest sinuses, called the maxillary sinuses, are near the roots of your upper teeth. When inflammation causes these sinuses to swell, their close proximity allows the pressure to spread to these tooth roots, generating discomfort similar to a dental-related toothache.
Diagnose Your Toothache
To learn more, or to diagnose or treat your toothache, schedule a consultation with Dr. Erpenbach as soon as possible by calling our Knoxville dentist office at 865-584-8630. As a dentist in the 37919 area, we gladly welcome patients from Knoxville and all surrounding communities.