If you feel a severe toothache when eating, drinking, or even sucking in air through your mouth,  you’re likely experiencing tooth nerve pain. This extreme pain occurs when at least one tooth nerve is exposed, or the tooth nerve is inflamed.

Typically, an enamel layer protects the tooth nerve, but only up to the gum line. Surrounding tissue protects the deep-lying tooth necks from the temperature fluctuations in the mouth. When these gums recede, the now-exposed sensitive areas react to hot and cold, as well as sweet and sour. This pain travels into tooth roots, which contain the tooth nerves.

Tooth Nerve Structure

The nerves of the tooth are in its tooth pulp, under the gum line. This pulp fills the pulp chamber inside the tooth, while hard substances on the outside give the tooth its firm consistency.

The pulp chamber extends from the tooth crown to the tooth root. The pulp inside contains connective tissue, including the blood and lymphatic vessels and dental nerve fibers.

Inflamed dental pulp causes tooth nerve pain that can either be reversed or not. Our providers at Danville Family Dentistry determine this by examining your teeth when you come to us with a toothache.

How Do You Protect a Dental Nerve?

Usually, new tooth nerve pain is caused by hot or cold temperatures or sweet or sour foods that touch sensitive areas around receding gums.

Everyone experiences receding gums as they age, leading to extra bacteria settling into gum pockets. One way to avoid excessive bacteria causing tooth nerve pain is by regular professional tooth cleaning. You can support your dental health by brushing your teeth to remove plaque but never brush so vigorously that you damage your gums.

How Does Tooth Nerve Pain Feel?

Toothaches from the dental nerve can be dull and throbbing or sharp and stabbing. A toothache may just mean that the tooth nerve is irritated but not inflamed. Our dental experts will examine your teeth and let you know the status of your tooth enamel, tooth nerves, and tooth roots.

Damage to the tooth’s nerve can manifest itself in very different ways. Tooth nerve pain can be acute or chronic.

In acute inflammation, the dental nerve is still alive. The pain feels very sharp, sometimes pulsating to unbearable. After a while, the pain can no longer be alleviated or eliminated, even with painkillers. It’s often impossible for the patient to locate the affected tooth precisely because the pain can radiate into the upper or lower jaw or the ear.

In chronic inflammation, the nerve has already completely or partially died. The resulting bacteria cause inflammation of the bone in the root tip area. An X-ray of your mouth shows a dark spot where the inflammation is. This dark spot means the bone has already dissolved. When the patient bites this tooth, they push it into this inflammation, which causes the pain.

You can think of it as a bruise that hurts as soon as you press on it. This kind of pain causes a recurring or persistent dull ache. You may feel loosened teeth, or the tooth may turn a darker color. Regular check-ups help to identify such inflammations.

Can the Dentist Save My Tooth?

Whether we can save a tooth depends on how severely the tooth is already injured. Dental nerves can be irritated by cold and heat as well as an incorrect bite. In this case, you don’t need fillings or a tooth root treatment. We can simply harden your enamel and seal the tooth. If there are no cracks in the tooth, the nerves remain protected.

Call Danville Family Dentistry today at 317-745-4400 to schedule your next visit.

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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.