Imagine you’ve just made dinner and are ready to eat. You take your first bite and feel a sharp pain in your teeth. You ask yourself “Why do all my teeth hurt suddenly?”. This is the case in 22 per cent of adults, as revealed by an American Family Physician survey. The most likely things that cause sudden toothache are infected or cracked teeth, or the development of tooth sensitivity along with another problem.
The good thing about sudden tooth pain is that most causes are easily treatable by your dentist. Your dentist will also help you with preventing similar pain in the future.
Sensitivity to extreme heat or cold happens when your enamel is eroded. The enamel is on the surface of the tooth and protects the other tissues, and when the enamel is eroded, tissues that contain nerve endings are exposed, causing sensitivity to extreme heat or cold.
Tooth cavities, also known as tooth decay, maybe the cause of sudden tooth pain. Cavities can form on your teeth without being noticed for some time. Tooth decay happens because of bacteria on your teeth that produce acid and damage your enamel. When the cavity progresses towards an infection, a sharp pain can be felt in the tooth.
You should avoid eating sugary foods to prevent bacteria that cause cavities from thriving on your teeth.
The sinuses are a connected system of cavities in the skull. Sinus inflammation, also referred to as sinusitis, can sometimes be a cause of toothache. When the sinuses become inflamed and filled with pressure, they push the other tissues around them, including the tissues around the teeth that contain nerve endings that cause tooth pain.
Sinus infections can be treated with oral antibiotics that are prescribed by a medical doctor. In very extreme cases where sinus infections appear frequently, surgery is needed.
The gums are the pink tissue in the mouth that help the teeth stay in place. Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a condition where the gums start receding. Gum disease can happen because of aging or physical trauma to the mouth or teeth. When the gums recede, the teeth are left exposed. This can increase the risk of even greater gum disease and tooth infections. The gum tissue that recedes will not grow back, but treatments can help to eliminate further recession and pain.
Gum infection, or gingivitis, is the first stage of periodontal disease. Some people have gingivitis without even knowing it. Some symptoms include gum sensitivity and bleeding gums. Gum infection should be treated as soon as possible, to avoid the further progression of gum disease.
Enamel erosion can cause tooth sensitivity and pain. Erosion occurs when a person has a highly acidic diet, brushes too hard, or can even be a side effect of bulimia. Eroded enamel can’t be restored. Erosion can cause very sharp pain when biting.
Temporomandibular joint syndrome, or TMJ syndrome for short, is a musculoskeletal condition that affects the jaw. The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the skull. People that have TMJ syndrome often experience sudden or severe pain in the jaw, ear or temple, but this pain can also radiate to the teeth.
Known symptoms of TMJ syndrome include:
Having crowded teeth can cause a lot of pain. Crowded teeth can only be painful in some areas or sometimes all the teeth can be painful. Some symptoms of crowded teeth can be crooked or overlapping teeth, pain when the wisdom teeth start coming through or changes in the teeth shape of the bite over time. Crowded teeth can be treated either by wearing a retainer or a fixed brace that helps realign teeth. They can also be treated by removing one or more teeth to make more room in the mouth.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can lead to chronic tooth sensitivity as this also erodes the enamel over time. Many people grind their teeth in stressful situations from time to time, but if done frequently enough this can become a regular habit, and bruxism can develop. People that suffer from bruxism aren’t aware that they constantly grind their teeth. Sometimes, tooth grinding can even occur only when asleep.
Products for whitening teeth such as bleaching gels and whitening strips, or having your teeth professionally whitened by a dentist can put you at a higher risk of having sensitive teeth. This sensitivity is only temporary and lasts while using the whitening products.
If your teeth start hurting more and more, you should probably make an appointment with your dentist. Sometimes the treatment can only be a sensitivity-reducing toothpaste, and sometimes corrective surgery, like a tooth extraction or a filling, is needed.
Some symptoms should never be ignored. If you have some of these symptoms, you should visit your dentist right away: