For most people, pain in their teeth or gums inspires a sense of dread and anxiety. While many dental problems can be found by dentists before their patients ever know that an issue is brewing, pain often indicates that something more severe has gone wrong and that it needs immediate medical care. However, you may find yourself confused if your tooth hurts sometimes, but often not at all. Here's why you should be concerned about it and what it may mean.
Tooth Pain Indicates a Problem that Needs to be Addressed
Just like every other part of the body, there are nerves hidden away in your teeth that are responsible for sending electrical signals to your brain. These signals are designed to transmit inform your brain about whatever your teeth experience, for example, being touched, feeling cold, or being burned. In teeth, these nerve endings are typically hidden deep inside the tooth, usually meaning that you'll only feel pain in extreme circumstances, like being hit in the mouth or a bad cavity developing. No matter what the cause of the pain, the problem should be addressed quickly to avoid it worsening.
Intermittent Pain Requires a Dentist to Diagnose the Problem
When a tooth hurts sometimes, but without any obvious trigger or chronic pain following it, it often indicates that something is going wrong inside the tooth or with the nerve ending itself.
While most people know and understand that injuries and tooth decay can cause teeth to become damaged and painful, they aren't the only things that can hurt a tooth. Unfortunately, some of these conditions are invisible to the naked eye, and can only be detected with a thorough dental examination and x-rays.
For example, a rare condition called dental resorption can cause pain symptoms similar to those caused by cavities, but without a hole on the surface of your tooth. This is because resorption starts on the inside, breaking down the internal tissue and nerve endings. As a result, the nerves can become inflamed and irritated but may not be chronically impacted, at least at first. Nerve damage can also be a problem with conditions like diabetes, which can cause nerve endings to malfunction and send pain signals when normally no pain should be felt.
Visit the Dentist Whenever You Experience Tooth Pain
In general, even if the pain goes away, it's a good idea to get your teeth checked out by a dentist anytime they hurt. If you're lucky, your dental appointment will include a simple exam and cleaning without any serious issues arising. However, if you do have a problem going on with your teeth or nerves, getting help from a dentist early on can reduce the amount of time you spend in the dentist's chair, and in many cases, can help to rescue a tooth instead of letting it decay severely enough that it has to be extracted.