You brush your teeth twice a day and floss every night, yet; you still have a nagging pain in your jaw. Whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp twinge, oral pain can be extremely frustrating—and it’s often hard to pinpoint the exact cause. So keep reading to learn about five common causes of oral pain and what you can do about them.
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Symptoms of gum disease include red, swollen, or bleeding gums; receding gums; and bad breath.
If you suspect you have gum disease, it’s essential to see a dentist immediately so they can develop a treatment plan. In its early stages, gum disease is usually reversible with professional cleanings and improved at-home oral care. However, if it progresses to the advanced stage (known as periodontitis), you may need surgery to treat it.
Additionally, there are some ways you can prevent gum disease. The first option is to get a tooth implant. These implants can protect your gums from disease and decay, especially if you miss some teeth. You should also practice healthy oral hygiene habits such as brushing your teeth twice daily, using mouthwash, flossing daily, and using an electric toothbrush.
Cavities are one of the most common reasons for oral pain—and usually one of the easiest to treat—a cavity forms when bacteria in your mouth create acids that eat away at your tooth enamel.
The hole that forms is called a cavity and is left untreated. Cavities can cause severe tooth decay and pain. If you think you might have a cavity, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Occasionally, cavities can be treated with a simple filling or root canal (if the decay has reached the tooth’s pulp). However, if it gets worse, it might need to be extracted.
You can do a few things to prevent cavities, such as brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day. Additionally, you should avoid sugary drinks and snacks between meals and rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash after eating or drinking sugary foods.
Tooth sensitivity is often caused by exposed tooth roots (typically due to receding gums) or worn-down tooth enamel (usually from acidic food and drinks or aggressive brushing). As a result, you may experience discomfort when eating hot or cold foods/beverages or breathing in cold air if you have sensitive teeth. While there is no cure for tooth sensitivity, there are ways to lessen the discomfort. For instance, desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride gel can help to strengthen your teeth and make them less sensitive.
Additionally, some orthodontic supplies can help to reduce sensitivity. For instance, placing a filling or crown on top of your tooth can cover the sensitive area and protect it from further damage.
TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder—in layman’s terms, there is something wrong with the joint that attaches your lower jaw to your skull (hence the acronym “TMJ”). Common symptoms include pain in the jaw joint area; clicking or popping noises when opening/closing your mouth; facial pain; headaches; and earaches—but not everyone experiences all of these symptoms. If you think you might have TMJ disorder, talk to your dentist about treatment options such as nightguards or splints (to reduce grinding/clenching), physical therapy exercises, medications (for inflammation), or surgery (in severe cases).
Sinus infections occur when viruses or bacteria cause the sinuses to become inflamed—and sometimes sinus infections can lead to facial pain (particularly around the cheekbones), congestion/stuffy nose, sore throat, postnasal drip, feverishness/chills, and more.
If you’re experiencing any combination of these symptoms and suspect a sinus infection, it’s best to see a doctor so they can prescribe antibiotics (if necessary). In some cases, sinus infections go away on their own within seven to 10 days—but seeing a doctor can help speed up the healing process and lessen your symptoms.
You should also avoid eating a particular food more likely to trigger an allergic reaction, such as dairy, eggs, wheat, citrus fruits, and tomato sauce. Additionally, you can try using a humidifier or over-the-counter allergy medication to minimize swelling in your nasal passages and help clear out mucus.
There are many different reasons you may be experiencing oral pain—but fortunately, there are just as many treatments available depending on the underlying cause. If you are concerned about any oral pain you are experiencing, make an appointment with your dentist immediately so they can diagnose the problem and recommend an appropriate course of treatment.