A dull ache or a stabbing pain somewhere in your mouth that is going on and off for days can be frustrating at best and debilitating at worst. Whichever is the case for you, let us at least shed light on a question you may have on your mind right now: “Why does tooth pain come and go?”

Besides that, we’ll show you how the pain that comes up now and then might not be tooth-related! So, before that toothache becomes a headache—if it isn’t already—educate yourself on the subject and find the best recourse or resource for your problem starting with this article.

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Why Does Tooth Pain Come and Go?

There are many reasons why a toothache comes and goes. One of which is caused by our own body’s healing process. So there are times when you think it’s gone only to come back a few days, weeks, or months after.

Additionally, some levels of pain are somewhat unnoticeable especially when you are engaged in a few activities, only to get your attention when you are winding down or trying to get some sleep. That’s why some people tend to notice that their tooth is aching during nighttime.

Besides those reasons, it’s also possible that the dentist has misdiagnosed your condition. While it seems like the pain is coming from your tooth, it actually may not be. Pain in the ear, sinuses, or your jaw can sometimes feel it’s coming from your teeth. And, the opposite is also true. If there are times that you can’t even pinpoint whether the pain is from your upper or lower teeth, then do not fret for that’s normal, too.

Whichever the cause of a toothache may be, unless it is addressed, it will continue to harass you for days or months on and off.

Here’s a Rundown of the Possible Causes of an Intermittent Toothache:

Tooth-Related Problems

Toothache results from inflammation or damage to teeth, particularly on the dental pulp where you find sensitive nerves and blood vessels. In such cases, a visit to the dentist will put an end to the pain. Meanwhile, you can try some over-the-counter or home remedies.

Any of these can be the cause of the intermittent pain you’re experiencing:

  • Tooth decay or cavities

It is a result of acid-producing plaque eating away the enamel of your tooth. When not arrested, it spreads inwards, causing more and more damage. With the outer surface consumed away by plaque, a nerve may become exposed and cause pain.

  • Cracked tooth

A crack can occur with age or from biting down on tough food or object. When the fissure moves, it’s likely to irritate the pulp and cause acute pain. Your teeth may even develop sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Left untreated, it may cause an infection to develop. Thus, it will hurt even in the absence of pressure or sudden temperature change.

If a crack is detected, then a dental filling or bonding will solve the issue. The problem lies when the crack is too small to be seen by human eyes or when the crack is from the inside or not show up on an X-ray. Over time, however, it will become evident, and the dentist will be able to pinpoint the problem.

  • Loose or broken fillings

When a filling becomes loose or damaged, it exposes your tooth to the same external stimuli that the filling was supposed to protect your tooth from. So, naturally, this will cause a toothache. With new fillings set in place by your dentist, the pain will go away for good.

  • Infections

Shrinking gums lead to exposing the more sensitive parts of the tooth root; thus, the pain. If not treated, then this can lead to more serious problems such as persistent tooth loss. It’s important to note that the gums surround and secure the teeth. Thus, gum problems should be taken seriously. Depending on the cause of the receding gums and the extent of the damage, a dentist may give you a professional cleaning, do root planting, execute a root canal procedure, or carry out a tooth extraction.

Another form of infection that can cause a toothache is the periodontal abscess. Because the infection is easy to spot with the accompanying redness and swelling at the gum line, it can be addressed easily by the dentist. The only problem is that you could expect another flare-up episode because often the underlying infection doesn’t go away.

Non-Tooth-Related Triggers

Now, if you’ve gone to the dentist but the pain continues to recur, then it’s possible that the problem isn’t your tooth or gums. A toothache can be just a symptom of a different medical condition. Sinusitis, inner ear infection, and angina, for example, may cause a toothache-like sensation that may come and go.

A study conducted by Dr. Steven Radford of the UCLA Pain Management Center is proof of that. The study published in The Journal of the American Dental Association reports that two-thirds of 61 patients complaining of pain in the lower facial area have been misdiagnosed with toothaches. Turns out that the culprit of the intense and recurring pain they felt was caused by an irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which runs through the face to the brain!

So, before you have your dentist perform serious procedures such as a root canal or extraction, it’s best also to see a doctor and an endodontist who is more adept at diagnosing complex dental health problems.

Final Thoughts

So, why does tooth pain come and go? The simple answer is that it can be tooth-related and your body may be trying to put up a good fight. In some battles, it wins. But eventually, at some point, you’ll have to see your dentist or endodontist to address the issue. The sooner, the less damage there will be.

But you’ll also have to bear in mind that the intermittent pain might be a symptom of a condition that’s not related to your teeth or gums. So, you’ll have to consider that possibility as well and try to be observant of other co-existent signs and symptoms. Still, a doctor or a dentist is your best bet for diagnosing and making that pain go away for good!

Our Top Pick For Treating Toothache

No more scary and expensive dentists!

Learn More

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