At some point or other, we are all likely to suffer from a toothache. It is common to assume that toothaches are an indication of a cavity, but this actually may not always be the case. In fact, there are several other possible causes.
If you’re experiencing pain when consuming hot or cold food and beverages, it could be an indicator of a cavity, but it may also be that you have tooth sensitivity. This could be caused by gum recession or thinning of the tooth enamel. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to determine the cause of your sensitive teeth. You may also want to try using a softer toothbrush and a toothpaste specifically for sensitive teeth to ease the pain.
More Serious Cases
If the pain is more severe—sharp & stabbing when biting down on food—you may have a cavity or cracked tooth. If the pain is constant, you might have an abscessed tooth or infection. In either of these cases, be sure to make an appointment with your dentist to determine the cause.
Not all potential causes of tooth pain are even related to the health of your teeth! Sometimes a toothache can be caused by a sinus infection. If only the upper teeth are in pain, it might be sinusitis. In this case, the toothache would usually be accompanied by nasal congestion and tenderness around the sinuses. If you suspect that you have a sinus infection that is causing your toothache, consider seeing your doctor to find out for sure.
If you’re suffering from pain that seems more related to your jaw, it could be caused by trauma or injury to the jaw. This could be a result of tooth grinding (bruxism), arthritis or cancer affecting the jaw, or (if you have not had your wisdom teeth removed) impacted molars.
Diagnosing the Problem
While you may be able to identify what seems to be the cause of the problem, you cannot diagnose it on your own. See a dentist (or doctor, if you think it is a sinus infection) to be sure!