Tooth Sensitivity and Toothaches: When You Don’t Have to Worry

Whenever you have an ache or pain or sensitivity in your body, it can be disconcerting. You know something is wrong, but you don’t know what. You also don’t want to assume the worst and jump to conclusions, making a big deal out of a non-serious issue. Tooth sensitivity can range from occasional, slight discomfort to constant, more noticeable pain when eating or drinking hot or cold items. Toothaches can also range from a short period of slight discomfort to chronic, debilitating pain. While both tooth sensitivity and toothaches warrant a trip to the dentist when they continue for an extended period of time and their pain is severe as to affect one’s daily activities and living, there are other times when these two dental issues are nothing to worry about.

Tooth Sensitivity

Teeth that are sensitive to hot, cold, sweet and sour foods and drinks are fairly common. There are many reasons why your teeth may be sensitive including genetics, tooth trauma, and tooth decay. It ultimately comes down to the condition of the tooth enamel. When one naturally has thin enamel, has cracks or chips in their tooth enamel or has weakened tooth enamel as a result of tooth decay, the nerves contained inside the tooth pulp underneath the enamel gets exposed to air, germs, bacteria and liquids. It is when these nerves are irritated that tooth sensitivity occurs. If the sensitivity is temporary and goes away or if the discomfort is chronic, but not too severe, it is a good idea to have your dentist check it out during your six month dental cleaning and exam. He or she can determine the cause of your tooth sensitivity and recommend treatment ideas or ways to reduce the discomfort.


Most patients automatically think that a cavity is the culprit of their toothache. While in some cases, tooth decay can lead to infection that causes teeth to ache, it isn’t the only cause of toothaches. Tooth abscesses and gum disease are other serious conditions that can lead to toothaches. Bruxism, or excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching are other causes of aching teeth. While toothaches caused from tooth decay and gum disease tend to result in more painful, chronic aching teeth, those caused by Bruxism or tooth trauma may resolve themselves within a few days. They also tend to have less pain and discomfort. Regardless of the cause, if your toothache pain and discomfort doesn’t go away or improve within a few days or if the pain is severe enough as to impact your quality of life and make it difficult to do routine, daily tasks, immediate attention by a dental professional is needed. Otherwise, the issue can be checked out by your dentist during a routine check-up and cleaning.

Whether you’re experiencing a slight case of sensitive teeth or a toothache, below are some indications that don’t warrant an immediate, emergency trip to the dentist:

Your toothache is not severe. If your tooth sensitivity or toothache pain isn’t interfering with your ability to do everyday tasks, you can wait to see your dentist.

You’re not experiencing a fever. If your aching tooth is accompanied by a fever, it is often a sign of an infection. If you don’t have a fever, immediate dental attention is likely not necessary.

You don’t experience ear pain or pain when opening your mouth wide. A tooth abscess which causes painful toothaches can lead to the infection of the jaw. Infections can also spread to the ears with their close proximity to the mouth. If the slight pain is only isolated to a part of the mouth, the postponement of dental treatment won’t make it worse.

Your tooth pain has not persisted beyond a few days. When it comes to sensitive teeth and toothaches, the issues can resolve themselves in a matter of a few days.

Regardless of whether you’re experiencing a toothache or tooth sensitivity, it is recommended that you get them checked out eventually by your dentist as they can be the result of gum disease or tooth decay. If the pain is severe and has been continuing for a while, immediate dental attention may be necessary.

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