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Toothache or tooth pain can often be caused when the nerve to a tooth is irritated, but there are numerous other causes for tooth pain. Dental infection, gum disease, plaque, dental decay, injury, cracked teeth, poorly placed fillings or crowns, failing or leaking fillings or crowns, or loss of a tooth (including tooth extractions), temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and obstructive sleep apnea are all common causes of dental pain. There are instances, however, where pain originating outside the dental area radiates to the mouth, thus giving the impression of tooth pain. This often happens when there is a problem with the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ), ears, nerve, sinuses, and/or muscles. Occasionally, heart problems can give the sensation of tooth pain.
One can prevent the majority of dental problems by flossing, brushing, and using many different products, such as xylitol- and fluoride-containing rinses and toothpaste, and having teeth professionally cleaned on a regular schedule. The dentist may apply sealants, varnishes, and fluoride, which are especially important in children but can also be valuable to adults and the elderly, too.
Toothaches occur from inflammation of the central portion of the tooth called pulp. The pulp contains nerve endings that are very sensitive to pain. Inflammation to the pulp, or pulpitis, may be caused by dental cavities, trauma, and infection.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/16/2015
Todd C. Snyder, DDS
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