5 Tips to Get Rid of Tooth Pain

Dr. Kyle Hornby

Tooth pain and sensitivity are the most common problems people tell us about at their regular check-up appointment. Persistent sensitivity is unpleasant and can be demoralizing to patients if it lasts long-term. Luckily, there are simple ways to determine the source of pain. And, even better still, many of the solutions for dental pain involve no treatment whatsoever.

So let's get into my 5 tips for identifying the problem and eliminating the discomfort!

1. Identify the cause.

The first thing I will always recommend is to visit your Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist to assess the source of your tooth pain. There are many types of dental pain and an even larger list of causes. Teasing apart all the details to nail down a solution can be challenging.

One really important thing to think about is whether the pain or sensitivity comes from a single tooth (or small area) versus if the symptoms are more general and spread out in the mouth. A second important thing to note is whether the pain is brought on by a stimulus (like cold or pressure) or if your symptoms are spontaneous and unprovoked). The final thing to think about is whether pain is dull (like the pain you feel with a bruise) or sharp (like a needling pain or electric shock).

Here are some common types of dental pain and what each type can tell you:

  • Achey teeth along with sore cheeks and temples. This is a common symptom set with patients who grind or clench their teeth. A high percentage of people grind their teeth. Most do it unconsciously during sleep and, thus, are completely unaware of the source of their problem. If your teeth ache without provocation, let your Dentist know. One really important piece of information is whether you have many achey teeth or just a single achey tooth. Multiple achey teeth is a sign consistent with grinding and clenching. A single achey tooth can indicate a crack is present (you will commonly also notice sharp pain on biting) or that you have a dental infection or abscess originating from a single tooth.
  • Teeth that are sensitive to cold. This is commonly due to dentin hypersensitivity. There are 2 common sources. The first is gum recession which results in exposed roots and exposed dentin. The second is loss of enamel and exposure of underlying dentin due to tooth grinding. Typically, the sensitivity is brought on by cold foods or beverages and it settles quickly thereafter. If you have sensitivity that lingers long after the cold food or drink is gone, then you likely have a different problem. Let your Kitchener Dentist know about this as it is a common sign of irreversible hypersensitivity that may require treatment.
  • A tooth with sharp pain when biting. This is a common sign when their is a crack in your tooth. The sharp pain may not occur all the time. The tooth may eventually split and require dental extraction. You may be able to salvage the tooth with root canal treatment followed by a dental crown. In rare cases, the pain settles on its own and does not return. Though unlikely, let's hope for that outcome.

2. Use Desensitizing Products.

What are "desensitizing products"? Well, Sensodyne toothpaste is a desensitizing product. You can buy this at your local drugstore. Some patients enjoy relief using fluoride rinses and varnishes that you can find at drugstores as well. Best way to use these products is as per product directions. One wrinkle I'd employ? After you spit out the Sensodyne toothpaste or fluoride varnish, don't rinse. Leave a small reservoir in the mouth so it can continue to act for a longer period of time!

Also, ask your Family Dentist in Kitchener about medical grade desensitizers that they can apply easily for you. A Dentist can paint desensitizers like Gluma or G5 onto hypersensitive dentin to quickly thwart discomfort. These products block open tubes in your dentin so that pesky stimuli (think cold, acidic or sweet foods) do not activate the nerve.

3. Try a Night Guard.

Night Guards fit over either your upper or lower teeth (think athletic mouth guards) to cushion and protect them during nighttime tooth grinding. If you wear a night guard you'll a) stop wearing down your enamel and b) stop irritating sensitive dentin that my settle down in time. The Night Guard will also cushion your teeth so that they become less achey over time.

If grinding and clenching your teeth is the root of your sensitivity, a night guard will help big time!

4. Dial down the acid!

I love smoothies. Some people love orange juice. Some people like a glass of red wine every evening with dinner. All of these things can repeatedly expose your teeth to acid leading to erosion and structural loss. These acids can also re-activate dentin that has settled down causing a relapse of sensitivity.

You may find it helpful to cut back on these acidic foods or to dilute what you are consuming.

5. Elevate your Oral Hygiene.

For most of you, this will sound like the typical, low-hanging fruit of dental advice floating around out there. But, here's a twist: a clean mouth is less susceptible to pain. Inflammation causes pain. Untidy, inflamed gums are sore. They can ache on their own. Often times, gum pain can mimic tooth pain.

I've had a popcorn kernel under my gums for a few days before I was able to finally remove it. One of the things that amazed me was how tender my tooth became to normal chewing pressure. Gum irritation and inflammation can cause inflammation of the periodontal ligament (PDL) that surrounds your tooth root. If your gums are pumping out inflammatory substances and mediators it will make the PDL more tender and your tooth/teeth will hurt during chewing.

Luckily, brushing and flossing daily will eliminate inflammation. Let's say you don't like to floss. Like, ever. If you start to floss, you're looking at about 14 consecutive days of flossing to eliminate inflammation or Gingivitis. So there's a bit of an investment there but it's well worth it!

It may also be useful to consider a dental cleaning if it's been a while since your last visit to your Dentist in Kitchener.

Thank you for reading today's post!

Written by Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

If you would like to book an appointment for emergency dental care, please give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request an appointment here.

Our Kitchener Dental Clinic is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Waterloo, Breslau & St. Jacobs. Our central location means we truly offer family dentistry near you!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Dentist in Kitchener or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.

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