July 25th, 2014
Have you ever had a toothache that just won’t go away? Have you tried common toothache remedies like a crown, root canal, extraction, refilling or using sensitive toothpaste with only short-term relief or none at all? You may be experiencing an atypical toothache.
An atypical toothache occurs in a small percentage of cases and is marked by tooth pain that does not directly result from a dental problem. Atypical toothaches are often caused by muscles, joints or an overload of impulses in the nervous system, which require extra investigation and testing by an orofacial pain specialist to discover where the pain is coming from and how to stop it.
What Can Cause an Atypical Toothache?
According to this article by Dr. Keith Yount published in “Dentistry Today,” atypical toothaches can be caused by any of a number of issues throughout the body, including:
Muscles of Mastication
The most popular cause of an atypical toothache comes from the muscles associated with chewing and eating food. When there is excess muscle contraction, they can become inflamed which can present itself as tooth pain, just as a heart attack often feels like indigestion.
Head & Neck Muscles
Another group of muscles that can affect your teeth are the ones in your head and neck regions. Research claims that 75-85% of patients with atypical toothaches also had pain and dysfunction in their cervical muscles. When these muscles become tired, stretched or injured, it can result in mouth and/or tooth pain.
The second most likely cause of atypical toothaches is periodontal ligaments or the fibrous, connective tissue that covers the root of the tooth. This tissue can become irritated from excessive chewing, clenching, bracing (locking the upper and lower teeth together) or grinding of the teeth. This is an additional set of nerves to the tooth, so even a tooth treated with a root canal can still hurt.
TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, can play a big part in tooth pain, especially if the jaw is not even or the weight distribution is off. If the bone or disc is lost in the joint area, it can affect the back teeth.
Neurological or neuropathic issues can sometimes be the reason for an atypical toothache, where damaged tissue results in chronic pain. Patients in their 50s and 60s are commonly affected by this, and treatment involves locating the abnormal nerve tissue and treating the source of the pain.
Toothaches caused by neurovascular pain are more common in 30- to 50-year-old women who suffer from anxiety and depression and recently had a surgical dental procedure. Oftentimes, taking a certain type of medication can remedy the tooth pain.
Psychological, Sinus or Ophthalmologic Issues
There are a few causes of atypical toothaches that fall into the “other” category, such as psychological factors, sinus issues, cancers and ophthalmologic or eye problems. Pinpointing if one of these areas is causing tooth pain will require that your orofacial specialist thoroughly research and understand your patient history.
Contact Raleigh Facial Pain For Help with Atypical Toothaches
If you think you might be suffering from an atypical toothache or if you suspect an alternative cause for your tooth pain, then you should request an appointment with your Raleigh Facial Pain doctor or call our office at (919) 781-6600. The many toothache look-a-likes mentioned above require a specialist who can combine scientific, dental and medical expertise to find a solution and put an end to the pain.
Raleigh Facial Pain Center offers treatment for chronic facial and jaw pain, and serves patients in Raleigh, Cary, Apex and beyond, including Wake Forest, Greenville, Pinehurst, New Bern, Greensboro, NC and even South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.