Two common causes of tooth pain

24 April 2017
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Almost everyone has experienced an aching or sore tooth at some point. Read on to learn more about two of the most common causes of tooth pain.


'Tooth sensitivity' is a term used to describe the tooth pain that occurs immediately after the consumption of cold or hot food or drink. It is caused by the erosion of the enamel; this erosion results in the highly sensitive dentin that lies underneath the enamel being exposed. Overly aggressive brushing of the teeth, gum disease, as well as excess consumption of fizzy drinks can all lead to the wearing away of the enamel.

The tooth pain associated with sensitivity is usually very intense, but short-lived; most sufferers describe it as a sharp, stabbing pain which disappears soon after the food or drink that triggered it are gone.

Whilst there is currently no permanent cure for this dental problem, there are steps that a person can take to reduce the frequency and intensity of the pain they experience. They can, for example, use a special toothpaste that contains ingredients which will prevent the transmission of pain signals from the outer layer of the tooth to the inner layer (where the nerves are located). They can also make an effort to avoid eating the foods which they know can trigger the pain.

An abscess

A tooth abscess is a sac of pus which accumulates around the root of a tooth. This pus develops when bacteria enter the tooth's pulp and cause an infection. The pulp contains all of the tooth's nerves and blood vessels; because of this, an infection in this area can be extremely painful. It is usually a pulsating type of pain which gets worse over time. It begins at the site of the infection but, if left untreated, may also begin to radiate outwards to the jaw, neck and ear.

Although over-the-counter analgesics can temporarily relieve this pain, the only way to completely eliminate it is to address the root cause (i.e. the infection). This can only be done by a dentist. They will usually start off by draining the abscess, to remove the pus. This will almost immediately reduce the sufferer's pain levels. A root canal will then be performed, during which all of the infected pulp tissue will be extracted from the tooth. In instances where the infection is quite severe and has spread beyond the tooth root, the dentist may also prescribe the patient some antibiotics.