Have you ever woken in the middle of the night with a sudden jolt point shooting through your innards, not knowing what’s causing it or why the deities have forsaken you? Most of the time it’s because of a pesky toothache but why are toothaches so painful? Why do you suddenly have that urge to rip your mouth open and pull it out with a pair of pliers?
Before you rummage around your toolbox for your rusty tools, understand first what is causing the pain as this would lead us to why are toothaches so painful. It is always easier to read than done but isn’t knowing what you are facing better than blindly fighting a battle?
Understanding the Nature of a Toothache
Toothaches have been mankind’s nemesis ever since our ancestors have been able to describe fully and understand the pain that it causes. This ache that you feel in and around your tooth is often due to the inflammation of the nerves surrounding it. However, a simple toothache can have several possible causes, including the following:
- Tooth Cavity
The prime suspect in every tooth problem that you might have had in the past or will have in the future, cavities are holes in your teeth that lead directly to the nerve endings that the hard enamel tries to protect. Acidic fluid coming from food that you eat often gets inside which can cause some irritation deep inside which the body translates into pain.
- Too Much Exercise
Exercise is generally good for the body. Too much of it, however, can be detrimental especially if you lift weights as you tend to grind your teeth and clench your jaws more. These two reactions to lifting heavy weights, if frequently done can cause one form of irritation which is often called as a referred pain coming from the jaw or gums. Exercise also lets you build up more and more saliva, which is technically good for the digestive system, but this also causes a pH imbalance that can break down the enamel of your teeth.
- No More Fillings
Dental fillings, especially temporary ones, tend to fall off regardless of how well they were cemented on the teeth. Excessive chewing is the most often culprit for the loss of filling, but you just know you’ve lost yours when you start feeling the pain again.
Dental fractures are different from cavities although some fractures start off as small cavities that end up being too close together that they reach out and form a crack. These fractures leave your nerve endings vulnerable to acidic compounds and food debris.
- Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that can be an asset especially when it comes to chewing meat and grain. However, most wisdom teeth often grow out misaligned, and this misalignment can cause you severe pain around the gums.
- TMJ Disorder
Another type of referred tooth pain, TMJ disorders can often cause pain in the jaw area, as well as the muscles that control these movements. This pain is often felt around the gums and teeth as well, especially if it is severe.
- Receding Gums
This is a normal occurrence wherein your gums recede into the base of your mouth leaving previously unexposed teeth unprotected against harmful bacteria and acidic food which can cause you a toothache.
- Oral Infection
Infection coming from a wound around your mouth can cause referred pain as well since the bacteria can spread through the saliva and can bore through the cavities and cracks of your teeth.
Why Are Toothaches So Painful?
Biologically, a tooth is a hard enamel casing that protects a bunch of nerve endings that are directly connected to the trigeminal nerve. This nerve is one of several cranial nerves that link directly to the brain which means that whatever we feel inside the mouth, we feel in real-time, without dampers and suppressors. You can then assume that whatever is keeping you away from a world of pain is a hard layer of calcium-based shells that you often abuse by eating too many sweets.
Since the teeth only have nerve endings, this means that the only sensation that they can feel is the pain. Anything that your gums and teeth feel is translated as pain and our body releases endorphins to address this attack inside the body. You can only imagine the pain that the body experiences once we feel a direct attack on the nerve endings, unprotected by the enamel shell. It’s almost like pushing a button inside the brain to start a wildfire of painful sensations.
Preventing a Painful Co-Existence
Prevention, as they say, is the better than finding a cure, and this works the same for a toothache. For you to prevent toothaches and other oral infections, you must follow strict dental hygiene steps. These steps are pretty common and are actually practiced regularly by at least half the total population of the planet. Preventive measures include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Brush Your Teeth – the foremost preventive measure is keeping a healthy fence around your tongue. Brush your teeth after eating, before going to sleep and after waking up. These keeps food particles from accumulating and building up into plaque that can harm your teeth by causing cavities. Choose a toothbrush and toothpaste combination that works for the kind of teeth that you have
- Rinse with Saltwater – regularly rinsing with saltwater or with a mouthwash helps kill the bacteria that brushing cannot kill. This helps in keeping your mouth clean and maintains pH balance inside for a healthy oral environment
- Maintain a Dental Schedule – make it a habit of going to your dentist and having your teeth checked and cleaned professionally. This not only preserves your teeth, but it also lets you know if you need a filling or an extraction or whatever your dentist think is necessary. The old standard is going to your dentist at least twice a year but going more frequently is much better
- It’s in the Diet – you are what you eat as they say and whatever we eat have to pass through the mouth. The enzymes released by these food items can have an impact to the health of our teeth. Watch out for highly acidic fruits and sauces as they can cause the most damage.
- Quit the Nicotine – smoking is a bad habit as a whole, and the way that nicotine interacts with the teeth can cause severe damage, and you are giving yourself a higher chance of acquiring an oral infection.
Toothaches are not something you would want to wish upon your worst enemy, but they are a part of life whether you like it or not. The pain that it causes is no laughing matter, and the only way to avoid such pain is to start a good dental hygiene program that involves a lot of brushing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.