teeth pain|find out different causes of tooth ache


Teeth Pain?...

...let's find out the cause!


Dr. Vella gives some insight
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Pain due to decayed teeth and fractured fillings


Description:  These two cases will be discussed together since the symptoms felt by patients in both cases are very similar.  People who have decayed teeth or faulty restorations sometimes describe a 'shock like' pain when they eat or drink something cold or sweet.  The flow of air around teeth which happens when a person breathes through the mouth can also induce this type of teeth pain. The pain lasts for a few seconds and then subsides.  Teeth which have large cavities and are left untreated will cause even more severe pain; people describe a constant, deep throbbing pain which not only starts when a person eats or drinks something, but can also be spontaneous, even waking people up at night.

Decayed teeth

As described in the homepage section of basic tooth structure, teeth are made up of layers, where the outer layer, called enamel, protects the inner layer, called the dentine.  If there is a break in the enamel layer the dentine will become exposed and a person will start feeling a shock like pain everytime he or she eats or drinks something cold or hot.

Dental caries is the most common cause of such breakages in the enamel.  A diet high in sugar and bad oral hygiene will lead to dental plaque full of bacteria to accumulate on the tooth surface.  These bacteria release acids on the surface  of the tooth which creates holes within the enamel; with time the hole gets deeper and deeper and eventually leads into the dentine layer, at which point a person may start feeling the symptoms of decayed teeth.  If left untreated the hole will get even deeper and it will eventually reach the inner core of the tooth which is called the pulp; bacteria then enter the pulp chamber and cause an infection within the tooth.


Since the pulp contains nerve fibers passing through it,  the pain felt is even more severe than that felt with a shallow dental cavity.  Initially a deep throbbing pain is felt only when something hot or cold comes in contact with the tooth; as the infection gets worse the pain may become spontaneous and constant.  One point worth noting is that the pain is not always localised to the location of the infected tooth.  This means that the pain may be felt in a lower tooth when the problem may be coming from an upper tooth and vice versa.  This phenomenon is called referred pain.  If left untreated the infection would spread into the bone beyond the tooth to create an abscess, which is an accumulation of pus.  This swelling may increase in size to become visible on the side of the face.

dental caries cause of teeth pain



Fractured fillings


Even good quality fillings which are made of top grade dental filling materials do not last forever; fillings get worn down, the edges start to chip away, they fracture through the middle and sometimes they fall off the tooth.  The purpose of a filling is to seal off the hole created by the dentist when the dental cavity was treated.  Most fillings extend into the sensitive dentine layer; hence, if a filling is faulty, cold or hot liquids may irritate the dentine causing a shock like pain which lasts for a few seconds

Treatment of decayed teeth and fractured fillings

If you suspect that you have a decayed tooth or a fractured filling, visiting the dentist
is highly advisable.  Treating faulty restoration is straightforward: the defective filling is first removed by your dentist and a new one is placed instead.

Shallow dental cavities are also simple to treat; your dentist will remove the rotten tooth material and will then fill the hole with an appropriate dental material.  In the case of deeper cavities where the pulp chamber has become infected with bacteria, a procedure called root canal treatment is carried out.  In this procedure the tooth is made numb with an injection, the rotten tooth material is removed and the dentist also cleans out the infected pulp cavity. As shown in the diagram, the void left after removing the nerves, veins and arteries from within the tooth is then filled with a special rubbery material.  A conventional dental filling is then placed on top to close the hole in the tooth.  Sometimes the damage done to the tooth is so extensive that a filling is not enough to restore the tooth.  In such cases your dentist will recommend the placement of a crown to protect the integrity of the tooth.  This procedure may need two or three visits to the dentist to complete, depending on the tooth being treated and on the severity of the tooth infection.

root canal treatment teeth pain
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