What Is a Toothache?

If you've never had a toothache, you're lucky. Maybe you've heard friends or family members mention how painful their teeth hurt and you simply wonder what causes toothaches and how washing teeth can be so painful. This type of pain and discomfort of the teeth have many causes, though most of them stem from a common culprit.

What Causes Toothaches?

Patients and dentists alike attribute the aching of teeth to a variety of causes including:

  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Poor diet
  • Stress
  • Oral health issues

Poor Oral Hygiene Habits

A mouth that is not adequately taken care of in the sense of inadequate, improper or inconsistent cleansing will become diseased and more prone to injury and pain. By failing to regularly floss and brush one's teeth, he or she is likely to ruin his or her beautiful smile.

Cavities, also called tooth decay can cause toothaches. When the teeth are not brushed at least twice a day and when daily flossing is not done, food particles can get lodged in between teeth or on the chewing surface of teeth. The longer these food particles accumulate and typically get broken down, a type of enamel eroding acid is produced that weakened the tooth enamel. As a result, the hard, outer protection of the tooth gets compromised, allowing germs and bacteria to enter into the tooth where its roots, nerves and blood supply are located.

The sudden, unnatural exposure of the nerve inside the tooth can result in an achy tooth.

On the other hand, if one is too rigorous in his or her teeth brushing, the enamel can be accidently scraped off from either brushing too fast or by applying more than necessary pressure onto the tooth. In the same way disease can weakened the tooth enamel and expose the tooth's nerves, so can overly harsh brushing.

A Poor Diet

A nutritious, well-balanced diet is not only important for one's overall physical and mental health, but it is also necessary for one's oral health. Certain foods and drinks contain high levels of sugar, acid and bad carbohydrates which can eat away at tooth enamel, exposing the nerves and causing dull to severe aching.

Stress and Anxiety

When one is under stress or anxiety or if one is frustrated or angry, clenching and / or grinding the teeth is a natural reaction. However, this unnoticeable impulse can cause a great deal of harm and destruction for your teeth.

The excessive pressure of the teeth against themselves when one clenches his or her jaw can cause the tooth enamel to crack or chip, causing it to become weak and compromised. With weakened tooth enamel, the tooth becomes less able to keep disease, germs, bacteria and other outside substances out from the inside of the tooth, exposing the tooth's most sensitive and vital components, whereby causing toothaches.

In a similar manner, the constant grinding of the teeth can grind down the tooth enamel, causing similar destruction of the enamel.

The teeth can take a lot of abuse, but the consistent, constant jaw clening and teeth grinding can cause potential oral health problems, including toothaches.

Oral Health Issues

It is possible that one can have persistent toothaches due to heredity, like sensitive teeth.

In most cases, however, an underlying oral health issue such as Bruxism or gum disease is the prime suspect. Bruxism is a condition where one unconsciously grinds and / or clenches their teeth. This often happens at night while he or she is sleep. Persistent jaw and teeth pain often in the morning can be a sign of Bruxism.

With moderate to severe gum disease, the gums can pull away from the teeth, leaving more of the tooth exposed than what is normal. The additional tooth surface that is exposed becomes extra space for food debris to get stuck to, leading to potential cavities in the pulp and root of teeth that can result in toothaches and in the worst cases, lost teeth.

The underlying culprit of toothaches are exposed tooth nerves. Toothaches are fairly common and in most cases, the dentist will recommend a better teeth cleaning regimen. There are multiple things that can lead to a toothache . If you're tired of a chronic toothache pain, make an appointment with your dentist. If there is swelling or the severe, unbearable pain associated with your toothache, you may have a dental emergency and should call your dentist as soon as possible.