Extreme tooth pain treatments: cracked teeth, root canals and enamel.

Medically Reviewed by a
Licensed DDS

Table of Contents

  1. Types of Tooth Pain
  2. Medical Treatment
  3. Temporary Home Treatments
  4. Get Help From a Dentist
  5. References

Tooth pain can make it difficult for you to get through your day. You may have a hard time sleeping, concentrating, and eating, among other things. You may suffer so much that you cannot go to work.

While you can manage a lot of tooth pain at home, this is only a temporary solution, especially if the pain becomes extreme. Work with a dentist to diagnose and treat the cause of your tooth pain.

Once the underlying cause of your extreme tooth pain has been managed, you might need additional treatment to prevent further tooth damage. This may involve straightening your teeth. Keeping teeth in proper alignment reduces the risk of cracks, enamel damage, and plaque buildup.

Types of extreme tooth pain.

There are several potential causes of tooth pain, from minor issues to major infections or damage. Every cause requires treatment from a dentist to stop the pain and fix the problem. Long-term prevention and management involve at-home care.

Pain sensations are often described as:

  • Stinging
  • Throbbing
  • Tingling
  • Burning
  • Electric
  • Searing
  • Stabbing
  • Numb

While sensations are associated with certain causes of tooth pain, extreme dental pain may feel like several of these descriptions at once.

Causes of extreme tooth pain include:

Decay and Cavities

Tooth decay is a common cause of pain in a tooth. It can also lead to other problems, including cavities and infection.

If you feel sensitivity, discomfort, or pain near the root of your tooth, especially when you eat or drink, you may have tooth decay. Acids and bacteria break through the enamel if you have tooth decay, which is what causes holes in your teeth. This will expose the pulp, or root, which can trigger mild to severe pain in the nerve endings. If you lose a filling that covered a cavity, you may experience a similar type of pain.

A good oral hygiene routine, regular cleanings from your dentist, and getting any cavities cleaned out and filled are the most common treatments for tooth decay. You may take over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to manage the pain while you wait to have the problem addressed by a dentist.

Erupting or Impacted Teeth
If a wisdom tooth comes in, or a partially erupted or impacted permanent tooth begins to move, it can cause an aching pain in the area surrounding the tooth as well as in your jaw. This pain may radiate up your face or down your neck, depending on how much the tooth presses on surrounding nerves.
Grinding and Clenching Teeth

If your teeth and jaw hurt, but your dentist finds no signs of tooth decay, infection, or problems erupting, it may be because you clench your jaw or grind your teeth. Eventually, these issues can cause you to break your teeth, damaging the enamel and allowing food particles to become trapped, where they can cause a bacterial infection.

Pushing teeth together can also make them hurt, as the tissues surrounding the area become damaged and inflamed.

Infection

Tooth and gum disease — gingivitis and periodontitis, most commonly — can cause redness and swelling, bleeding when you brush or floss, bad breath, and ongoing, throbbing pain.

Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis goes untreated, causing gum damage that pulls the gums away from the teeth. This can expose the roots, leading to cavities, decay, and further infection. This may require months of cleaning and treatment with antibiotics to clear out the infection and stop gum problems.

If decay is serious enough, you may need a root canal to stabilize the tooth and clear out infection. You will get a temporary filling and will then need to return in a few weeks for a crown to restore the shape of your tooth. This prevents any further misalignment, which can cause pain later.

Malocclusion

This is the medical term for misalignment of your teeth, including crooked, crowded, or gapped teeth. It includes problems like an overbite or underbite, when the jaws do not line up properly. These issues increase your risk of grinding or clenching your teeth, having trouble chewing, and food collecting in areas that are harder to clean.

The muscles in the face may be stressed from misalignment. Typically, malocclusions can be treated with orthodontic options, including at-home aligners.

Traumatic Dental Injuries

If you are in an accident that damages your face, you may lose teeth. This will obviously hurt in the short term, and cracked, broken, chipped, and lost teeth can cause ongoing pain.

You will need to work with your dentist and your doctor to manage traumatic dental injuries. In very serious cases, you may need some type of reconstructive surgery.

Extreme tooth pain usually means that something is seriously wrong with a tooth, like infection, an impacted tooth, or another issue.

The need for medical treatment.

Most types of tooth pain mean you need to visit your dentist to diagnose the underlying cause. Many of the necessary treatments require a dentist’s expertise. They aren’t treatments you can do yourself at home.

In some cases, emergency treatment may be needed. If you experience extreme tooth pain in conjunction with certain other symptoms, you may need professional assistance immediately. You may need to go to the emergency room if you experience:

  • Fever.
  • Pain when you bite.
  • A foul-tasting discharge.
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing.
  • Swelling around the tooth area, especially if the area feels hot.
  • Continuous, severe pain that does not stop or ease.

Sepsis, a severe infection, can be caused by tooth decay or gum disease that goes untreated. It’s imperative that you get emergency help if you suspect sepsis or any other type of infection.

Home treatments temporarily ease extreme tooth pain.

Any toothache that lasts longer than a day warrants a visit to the dentist. In this case, you likely need medical treatment for some underlying condition like infection or damage to your tooth. You may need to have some teeth reconstructed after an injury. A medical professional can help you with this.

Home remedies can’t address the underlying issue. You need to see a doctor for that. But as you wait for your appointment, you can manage the pain with some home remedies.

The most common treatment is to take over-the-counter pain medications. You can also use a warm or cold compress to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Sometimes, alternating between heat and cold can help to alleviate pain.

Your teeth may seem to hurt worse at night than during the day. This is because lying down causes blood to rush to your head, which can increase the pressure on painful teeth. You may want to prop your head up at night to reduce the amount of blood flow, which can mitigate your toothache and help you sleep.

Your tooth may also seem to hurt more at night because there are fewer distractions. You may begin to obsessively focus on the pain, which can make you anxious. Take an over-the-counter pain medication to reduce swelling and relieve pain sensations, and try deep breathing or meditation to reduce anxiety.

If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your dentist about getting in to see them earlier. At this point, it is negatively affecting your life in a major way, and prompt treatment is needed.

Get help from a dentist.

Your dentist will be able to diagnose the cause of your tooth pain and begin a course of treatment that addresses the underlying issue. This may include antibiotics, deep cleaning, or a root canal. You may need to have a crown or an implant to replace some teeth.

You will need to go in for regular exams as directed by your dentist. They will often request you come in for follow-up appointments to ensure the issue has been effectively treated. Regular cleanings will also be essential to maintain dental health going forward.

If part of your tooth pain is due to misaligned teeth, it might be worth investigating how to straighten your teeth. Correcting misalignments can mean your bite lines up better, and this can reduce some issues that contribute to tooth pain.

References.

Tooth Pain. American Association of Endodontists (AAE).

Tooth Pain: Causes, Remedies, and Relief to Stop Tooth Pain. Crest.

What Causes a Toothache? (June 2018). Delta Dental.

Cavities and Tooth Decay: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment. Crest.

Toothache: Home Remedies, Causes, Relief for Sore Teeth. Crest.

Gingivitis. (February 2018). MedlinePlus.

What Is Periodontitis? European Federation of Periodontology.

Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading to the Body. (April 2020). Medical News Today.

Malocclusion of Teeth. (February 2018). MedlinePlus.

What Is Sepsis? (August 2019). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How to Get Rid of a Toothache at Night. (August 2019). Medical News Today.

How to Relieve Pain From a Cracked or Broken Tooth. (January 2020). Verywell Health.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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