What Causes a Toothache?

To explain what causes a toothache, let’s first look at the anatomy of your teeth. Each tooth is made of:

  • Enamel – the hard outer covering of the tooth. It’s the hardest substance in your body! Enamel protects your teeth from plaque and acids. Enamel can’t regenerate itself as it doesn’t have any living cells so it’s important to keep it from damage or erosion.
  • Dentin – a layer of living cells under the enamel. Dentin protects the inner pulp and when exposed because of enamel loss, conducts pain to the tooth’s nerves.
  • Pulp – this is center of your tooth and is alive with nerves, blood vessels and tissue.

Tooth Pain

The most common causes of toothaches are cavities and dental erosion that can both damage tooth enamel. A cavity is a small hole in the tooth caused by plaque build-up on the tooth’s surface. Plaque combines with sugars and starches from food and drink to produce damaging acid. Erosion from food or drink acids that pass through the mouth also damages the teeth.

Damage or erosion to the enamel surface of the teeth exposes the dentin to temperature extremes and also to acids in food and drink, transmitting pain signals to the nerves. Toothache also results when bacteria enter the inner layers of the tooth and cause inflammation.

Get the message? Your teeth are telling you that it’s time to visit the dentist.

You may be meticulous in taking care of your teeth with twice-daily brushings, daily flossing and rinsing with mouthwash. But tiny bits of plaque can remain even with the best oral care and harden into damaging tartar. Only your hygienist can safely remove hardened dental plaque to prevent further damage to your teeth.

Don’t Wait for a Toothache – Schedule a Dental Cleaning and Exam Today

Dr. Lorraine Burio of Candlewood Dental Care has been treating and educating patients for over twenty-five years. Our office serves the New Fairfield, New Milford, Danbury, and Sherman areas of CT and Pawling, Patterson and Putnam Lake of New York. You can call us at 203-746-1200 or make an appointment here.