Dental care and toothache. Closeup young woman face worried girl suffering from tooth pain

Uh-oh. You get a twinge of pain in or around your jaw. Maybe you feel it “in” a specific tooth or maybe it just feels like a radiating ache. Either way, your first thought might be that you are suffering from a cavity. This isn’t necessarily the case. There are several possible sources of tooth pain that only a dentist can diagnose:

Tooth Grinding (Bruxism)

Do you grind your teeth at night? Many people are unaware of this habit until a partner notices and asks them to sleep on the couch! Bruxism is often caused by excessive stress or an abnormal bite. When looking for signs of tooth grinding, a dentist will look for “flat” or worn down teeth. Wearing a mouth guard at night should help fix the issue and ease your pain.

Gum Disease (Gingivitis & Periodontitis)

Gum disease is an insidious problem that is sometimes associated with heart disease and diabetes. In addition to oral pain, people with gum disease suffer from bad breath, swollen and bleeding gums, sensitive teeth and receding gum lines. Gingivitis (and later periodontitis)  occurs when plaque builds up on teeth, causing inflammation. While mild gingivitis can usually be reversed with proper oral hygiene habits and visit to the dentist for a cleaning. If the gum disease is advanced, however, it may require antibiotics, dental scaling, and other more extreme treatment measures.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/TMD)

Does your jaw tend to click or pop? Is it difficult to open up and say “AHHH?” If this, along with pain or tenderness on either side of your face and jaw, sounds familiar, you may have TMJ. Some people with the condition also experience headaches, shoulder pain and even ringing in their ears. To diagnose TMJ, the dentist will likely take some X-rays, do a bite test, and refer you to an oral surgeon for follow-up.

Toothaches may seem all too common, but they are nothing to ignore! Make an appointment with a dentist anytime you experience persistent tooth pain, as its source may be more serious than a cavity (which can generally be prevented with routine dental visits and good oral hygiene habits). Call Vacendak Dentistry at (757) 609-3510 to make an appointment! Our dental office is located in Chesapeake, central to both Kempsville and Greenbrier and we accept most insurance plans.