Referred tooth pain is when you experience pain in a tooth that isn’t the source of the discomfort. For example, if you have a toothache on the right side of your mouth but also feel pain in your left ear, you may be experiencing referred tooth pain.
Referred tooth pain can have numerous causes, making it challenging to treat. Learn more about the causes of referred pain and when you should contact your dentist for a consultation.
How Does Referred Tooth Pain Happen?
When you experience tooth pain, it is crucial to understand where it comes from to determine the best course of treatment. Some potential causes of referred tooth pain include:
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal infection. The sinuses and teeth share a common nerve pathway (the trigeminal nerve.) Pressure from sinus inflammation can compress the nerves leading to the teeth, causing referred tooth pain.
Vagus Nerve Irritation
The vagus nerve is a bundle of nerve fibers that travel from the brain through the face to the chest. One of the nerve fiber types contained within the vagus nerve is the general afferent (sensory) fibers, which detect and transmit pain.
If the vagus nerve is irritated or inflamed, it can send signals to the brain that are misinterpreted as pain in the neck and jaw.
In some cases, the pain from a headache may be referred to the teeth because of nerve irritation. When the muscles in the head and neck become tense, they can put pressure on the teeth and jaw, causing pain. Headaches can also trigger changes in blood flow that can lead to tooth pain.
When a filling is placed in a tooth, your dentist uses articulating paper and a dental drill to realign your bite. If your bite is not correctly aligned during treatment, it can change how the biting surfaces of the teeth come together, creating small areas of increased pressure on the teeth. The pressure irritates the dental nerves, leading to pain that radiates to other teeth.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a rare condition that can cause referred tooth pain. The trigeminal nerve sends signals from your face but also tells the muscles in charge of chewing and biting what to do. When there’s damage along this nerve route, some people experience discomfort near their jawline.
Heart or Lung Disease
Heart or lung disease is a rare cause of referred tooth pain, but it is possible. These conditions can cause a build-up of fluid in the tissues around the heart and lungs, putting pressure on the nerves that supply sensation to the teeth. This can lead to referred tooth pain.
A dental abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of a tooth’s root or on the gums. Dental abscesses are one of the most common causes of referred tooth pain. Dental abscesses can be very painful and cause significant swelling, which radiates pain along the jaw to your other teeth. If a dental abscess is left untreated, it can lead to life-threatening sepsis.
Visit A Dental Place to Alleviate Tooth Pain
If you’re experiencing tooth pain, it’s vital to seek professional help as soon as possible. At A Dental Place, we can alleviate tooth pain by determining the cause of your discomfort and treating dental issues.