Why Does Tooth Pain Come and Go?

Posted on June 6, 2024 by Associates of Dentistry

Tooth pain is a common and often perplexing issue. One moment, you might feel fine, and the next, a sudden sharp or dull ache reminds you of your dental health. At Associates of Dentistry in Joplin, MO, we understand how frustrating this can be. In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons why tooth pain can come and go, helping you understand the possible causes and what you can do about it.

Common Causes of Intermittent Tooth Pain

1. Tooth Sensitivity

One of the most common reasons for tooth pain that comes and goes is sensitivity. This can be caused by:

  • Enamel Erosion: Acidic foods, beverages, or aggressive brushing can wear down the enamel, exposing the sensitive dentin layer underneath.
  • Receding Gums: Gum recession can expose the roots of your teeth, which are more sensitive than the enamel-covered crowns.

When the dentin is exposed, hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks can trigger short, sharp pains.

2. Dental Cavities

Cavities start small and may not initially cause constant pain. However, as the decay progresses and reaches the deeper layers of the tooth, the pain can become more noticeable, especially when eating or drinking. This intermittent pain can be a sign that a cavity is getting worse and needs to be addressed by a dentist.

3. Cracked or Damaged Teeth

A cracked tooth might not hurt all the time. The pain can occur when chewing, as the crack can open slightly, irritating the inner parts of the tooth. Additionally, temperature changes can cause the crack to expand or contract, leading to intermittent pain.

4. Sinus Infections

The roots of your upper teeth are close to your sinuses. The pressure and congestion can mimic tooth pain when you have a sinus infection. This type of pain often comes and goes with the severity of the sinus condition.

5. Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Grinding your teeth, especially at night, can cause intermittent pain. This happens because the constant pressure and friction wear down the enamel and can cause tiny fractures or irritation in the teeth and surrounding tissues.

6. Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, can cause occasional tooth pain. As the gums become inflamed and infected, they can recede, exposing the sensitive roots of the teeth. The pain may be more noticeable during brushing or eating.

What Should You Do About Intermittent Tooth Pain?

If you’re experiencing tooth pain that comes and goes, it’s essential to identify the cause and seek appropriate treatment. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene can prevent many causes of tooth pain. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and use an antiseptic mouthwash to reduce plaque and bacteria.

2. Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Regular dental check-ups are crucial. They allow your dentist to catch potential problems early, such as cavities or gum disease, before they become more severe. At Associates of Dentistry in Joplin, MO, we provide comprehensive dental exams and cleanings to help maintain your oral health.

3. Use Desensitizing Toothpaste

Using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help if you have sensitive teeth. These toothpastes contain compounds that help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve.

4. Avoid Trigger Foods and Drinks

Limit your intake of acidic, sugary, or very hot and cold foods and beverages. These can exacerbate sensitivity and decay.

5. Wear a Mouthguard

If you grind your teeth at night, a custom-fitted mouthguard can protect your teeth from further damage and alleviate pain.

6. Seek Treatment for Underlying Conditions

If your tooth pain is due to an underlying condition like a sinus infection or gum disease, treating that condition can help alleviate the pain. See your healthcare provider for sinus issues and follow your dentist’s recommendations for gum disease.

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