Three Types of Tooth Pain – and What They May Mean

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Although pain is never pleasant to experience, it can be useful – pain is often your body telling you that something isn’t right and needs to be corrected. In the case of mouth pain, specifically tooth pain, it could point to a few problems. Pain has something of a “language,” and the intensity, location, and duration of it can be great indicators of what the problem is.

Sensitivity to hot or cold
It’s normal to feel the bite of a scoop of ice cream or the sting of fresh, hot coffee, but if you ever experience a sharp, momentary pain after having either of these items (or other food items with extreme temperatures), it could be a sign of a few tooth issues. For one, you may have a spot of tooth decay or a loose filling in a treated tooth. You could also have an exposed root as a result of gum recession. The second issue is much more sensitive to temperature or pressure changes and is actually a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

Acute or constant pain
If you are experiencing continued pain in one particular area of your teeth (even if you can’t pinpoint the exact source), it could mean an issue with the pulp, the innermost layer of a tooth. If the pulp becomes infected with decay, it could affect the nerves within the tooth, causing pain. To treat the pain and save the tooth, a procedure called a root canal treatment may be necessary. Do not assume that the problem has gone away if the pain suddenly stops – this might only mean that the nerves have died, but the decay is still there and threatens the health of the tooth.

Severe gum pain
If a particular spot of your gums, rather than a tooth or teeth, is feeling sensitive to touch, it could be due to an abscess, a localized area of infection that develops in the gums. This could be due to gum disease or an infection spreading from the tooth pulp into the gum tissues. It will need to be treated by a dentist immediately to heal properly.

In general, if anything is feeling out of sorts in your teeth or gums, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your dentist to have it checked out.

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