Do you know the best time to go to the dentist?  Tooth hurty.

All jokes aside, there’s nothing quite as painful and distressing as dental pain, of that there is no doubt. But because there are so many things that can cause dental pain, it’s really important to take note of what causes your teeth and mouth to hurt and how that pain feels. For example, if your front teeth hurt when you drink something cold and the pain lingers more than about 30 seconds, the diagnosis could be a lot different than if you just had a little pain in the moment and it didn’t linger.

Tooth Pain Isn’t Just Caused By Dental Problems

While oral diseases are absolutely a common cause of tooth pain, they’re not the only things that can make your mouth hurt. In fact, your teeth might be hurting from other processes in far away parts of your body or from the jaw where they’re anchored.

Dental pain that comes from the mouth is pretty cut and dry, though the disease processes involved can be difficult to treat if left alone. Those include:

  • Tooth damage. Since teeth are full of pulp and nerves, it follows that they would hurt pretty badly if they were injured. Your crowns, fillings and implants can also hurt like a damaged tooth, for much the same reason.
  • Tooth decay. Cavities and abscesses are pretty major causes of dental pain. In these situations, the tooth is literally breaking down from the inside out. If you suspect cavities or an abscess, get to a dentist right away.
  • Gum disease. Periodontal disease can cause red, swollen gums or, in more advanced cases, the gums to actually pull away from the teeth. If your teeth hurt and you gums bleed on the regular, you may have periodontal disease.

Jaw pain, on the other hand, can have many causes that are a bit more nebulous. Because the jaw and the teeth are so intertwined, it can be really hard to tell tooth pain from jaw pain. If your jaw is angry, it could be due to one of these things:

  • Temporomandibular disorders (TMD). TMD often arises as the result of chronic tooth grinding or clenching. There are dental treatments for this particular problem, known as bruxism. Other common TMD pain could be caused by a dislocation of the jaw.
  • Malocclusion. Crooked teeth or an uneven bite pattern can actually be quite painful, especially when it’s severe. You might have pain in the jaw or even in your facial muscles! This issue can be fixed with braces or other techniques, depending on how severe your malocclusion is.
  • Impacted wisdom tooth. There are a lot of ways that wisdom teeth can go south on you. They might emerge, but at an angle, putting pressure on your other teeth, or not erupt at all, instead growing sideways under the gum line. Wisdom tooth pain is often in the back of the jaw, where the tooth is, but because the tooth itself can cause pain in the other teeth, it’s not the only spot to watch.
  • Mouth cancer. Numbness, pain, swelling, bumps or eroded patches inside the mouth may be your early warning signs of mouth cancer. If you suspect that you have mouth cancer, don’t wait, call your dentist right away. The sooner it’s caught, the easier the treatment will be.

Tooth pain also comes from far away from the teeth, it just happens to be pain that’s expressed in the mouth. Nervous systems are complicated and often do strange things. Here’s a list of non-mouth problems that might make your teeth hurt:

  • Sinus infections. Your sinuses and your teeth are pretty close to one another, as the crow flies. When your sinuses are inflamed or infected, the extra pressure they put on your teeth can cause them to hurt a lot.
  • Chronic viral infections. Viral diseases like shingles can hang out in your body, lying dormant until the time is just right. When they do become active, many take up residence in the nervous system. Sometimes you get unlucky and they end up in the nerves that serve your face and mouth. If you notice any scaly, itchy skin eruptions along with your pain and your dentist can’t find a cause, check with your PCP.
  • Nervous system disease. Although many nervous system problems can cause nerve damage to your teeth and jaw, trigeminal neuralgia is a common issue for many people. The pain from this condition is typically felt on one side of the face.
  • Cluster headaches. A rare type of headache, cluster headaches are said to be more painful than childbirth. Often the nerves of the face and mouth are involved. Although they aren’t dangerous by themselves, cluster headaches are very difficult to live with.
  • Diabetes. High blood sugars increase your risk of tooth decay, which, as mentioned above, causes pain from the pulp in your teeth.; Whether you’re a type 1 or a type 2 diabetic, you should be monitoring your sugars regularly and working with your doctor to adjust your medication or insulin as needed.
  • Drug abuse. Methamphetamine has long been known to be an enemy of a nice smile, but as it turns out, it can also cause mouth pain.
  • Vitamin deficiency. Not having enough B12, either due to dietary restrictions or an inability to properly absorb it, can make your teeth hurt. If you have a well-rounded diet and continue to have pain after your dentist takes a look, you should really see your PCP. They can help you figure out why you’re deficient and how to correct it.
  • Heart attack. This is the big one. If your chest feels tight at the same time that your lower jaw is hurting, you’d better call 911. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Heart attacks are serious and it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to get help right away.

Step 1: Get a Dental Check-up!

When dental pain invades your mouth and doesn’t go away quickly, it’s time to visit your friendly neighborhood dentists. Drs. Krieger and Hur understand that tooth pain can be seriously distressing, that’s why they get right to the heart of the matter! Give us a call today at 201-560-0606 or send us an email so we can get your appointment scheduled now. Dental pain shouldn’t wait!