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Patient Education

What Causes a Toothache, Besides Cavities

Man with Tooth Pain“My tooth hurts. It must have a cavity.”

Well, maybe it does. However, other conditions can cause a tooth to be sensitive to hot or cold foods, to the pressure of chewing… or to just plain ache.

A few of these other possibilities are:

  1. Shrinkage of the gum down below the top part of the tooth (crown) onto the tooth surface. This part of the tooth (cementum) is as sensitive to hot and cold as the part of the tooth (dentin) affected by a cavity.
  2. A new filling. When a tooth is treated to repair a cavity, it will sometimes be sensitive for a while afterwards. This reaction is normal and will usually soon correct itself.
  3. A tooth that has drifted into a position where it is now striking too hard against other teeth. This can sometime occur in anyone’s mouth, but most often happens when teeth have shifted because a lost tooth has not been replaced.
  4.  A grinding or clenching habit. Sometimes people will grind or clench their teeth without being aware of it while awake. It my also happen during sleep. In either case, this habit can cause pain.

It is important to pay attention to the early warning signals our bodies send us. If you feel something unusual in your mouth, come into the office to find out the cause and learn the best way to deal with the condition.

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