What’s Causing My Tooth Pain?

When you experience tooth pain, you want nothing else but for it to go away. But sometimes nothing you try—be it pain medication, ice packs, soft foods or something else—relieves the pain.


There are many reasons why your tooth could be ailing you. Let's take a look at your symptoms and explore possibilities.


Sharp Pain

A sharp pain in your tooth could be due to several different causes:

  • Cavity: This occurs when plaque damages the tooth. Plaque develops when food with carbohydrates sticks to the teeth and is turned into acid by bacteria.
  • Tooth fracture: This is when the outer tooth layers have been chipped. Causes include clenching or grinding your teeth or chewing on hard objects.
  • Abscessed tooth: This is an infection in the root or between the gum and tooth, caused by tooth decay, gingivitis, gum disease, or a tooth fracture.
  • Damaged filling: This is when the filling your dentist uses to treat cavities becomes damaged and needs to be re placed.


Each of these problems should be treated by a dentist. If your tooth pain is strong and persistent, see your Red Deer dentist as soon as possible.


Fever and Earache

If tooth pain accompanies these symptoms, they might be due to any of the problems above. The dentist will treat the dental problem in one of the following ways:

  • Cavity: The dentist will remove the decayed part of the tooth and fill it with a filling; if the amount of tooth remaining is not enough to support a filling for the long run, he may recommend a crown.
  • Tooth fracture: The dentist may stabilize the tooth by bonding it to surrounding teeth. He or she may need to perform a root canal procedure to treat the inner pulp, and then place a filling or crown to protect the tooth from further damage.
  • Abscessed tooth: The dentist will perform a root canal if the nerve and pulp are infected. If it is a gum infection, several options may be available to allow the gum to heal.
  • Damaged filling: The dentist will repair/replace the damaged filling.


Pain on Opening Mouth

This could indicate problems with your jaw joint, known as the TMJ, instead of with your teeth. Problems with these joints may cause pain in the jaw, face, and neck, as well as clicking sounds when you open your mouth. It can also make chewing more difficult. There are several causes, the most common being grinding or clenching your teeth. You may think you don’t have this habit, but you may unknowingly do it when you sleep.


Your dentist can prescribe a night guard to keep you from grinding your teeth while you sleep. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to ease the pain or perform dental work to improve your bite.


Pressure in Upper Teeth and Jaw

Like pain on opening your mouth, pain in your upper teeth and jaw could occur when you grind or clench your teeth. You are more likely to clench and grind if you are stressed, anxious, or frustrated. An improper alignment of your teeth can also lead to clenching or grinding. At Parkland Mall Dental Centre, our dentists can help you develop a treatment plan.


Another possible cause of pain in your upper teeth is sinus congestion/infection. The dentist can help rule out other causes and, if he suspects it is your sinus, you may need to follow up with your family doctor.


Sensitivity to Hot or Cold Foods

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a cavity crack or loose filling. However, it might also be caused by receding gums, where the gum tissue around your teeth pulls back, exposing your teeth's sensitive roots. Receding gums could lead to damaged teeth and even tooth loss. A dentist may treat it with a thorough professional cleaning, desensitization therapy as well as sensitivity toothpaste, or, occasionally, gum surgery.


Before you jump to conclusions about your problem's cause, call our Red Deer dental team in order to get a proper diagnosis for your emergency.


Pain when Chewing or Biting Food

Like other symptoms, this could be an indication of a cavity, crack or loose filling. However, it could also indicate pulp tissue damage. The pulp—the soft area at the centre of the tooth—can become damaged and infected from decay, cracks or chips, or repeated dental procedures. This may cause swelling, sensitivity, and discolouration.


If your pulp is damaged, the dentist will need to perform a root canal to remove the affected nerve and pulp, seal the area, and protect the tooth with a crown. After a root canal, your affected tooth should still be able to chew and function as normal. Our dentists can determine whether you need this procedure.


Swelling and Sensitive Gums

Having swollen or sensitive gums is another sign that your pulp may be infected. Other symptoms include sensitivity to hot and cold foods and liquids, toothache, and pain while chewing. If you experience these symptoms, you probably need a root canal. You could also have gum disease, which requires a professional cleaning or surgery. If you suspect you have gum disease, see a dentist immediately.


For more information on emergency dental services or root canals in Red Deer, call Parkland Mall Dental Centre at 403-342-1118.


If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described, call our Red Deer dentists as soon as possible. He or she can identify the source of your pain and treat it before it gets worse.


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