You Cope by Clenching
Do you clench your jaw in times of anger, tension, or intense concentration? Your teeth bear some of the brunt of that stress. They can ache or wiggle loose over time.
Your Daily Grind
Sometimes even when you don’t feel stressed, you might clench and grind your teeth while you sleep. It can happen when you have a sleep disorder, your bite doesn’t line up correctly, or you’re missing teeth. Ask your dentist if a night guard can help you prevent damage while you dream.
You Overdo Oral Rinses
Swishing with mouthwash multiple times a day may give you a deep clean. But it can come with a downside: sensitive teeth. Some rinses have acids that can damage your dentin, the middle layer of your teeth.
You Push Your Body
Studies on triathletes show that endurance training can wear down your tooth enamel more. The more intense their workout schedule, the more likely they were to have cavities. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why, but may think it has to do with how exercise changes the amount of saliva in your mouth.
Your Sinuses Are Stuffed
Pain in your upper back teeth might be a sign of a sinus infection. It’s pretty common, since your teeth are close neighbors of your nasal passages.
You’ve Got a Bun in the Oven
Pregnancy may have you seeing more “pink in the sink,” or blood when you brush. You’re more likely to deal with gingivitis when you’ve got a baby on the way. You also have a higher chance of cavities, so schedule some extra checkups with your dentist while you wait for delivery day.
Your Jaw Is Jammed
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your lower jaw to your skull. When any part of your TMJ isn’t working because of injury, arthritis, or something else, it can cause a whole host of symptoms, including pain when you chew and in your jaw.
It’s not common, but a condition called trigeminal neuralgia could be at the root of your tooth problem. It causes chronic nerve pain in one of the nerves in your head. The pain is often brought on by brushing your teeth, eating, and drinking.
Upper body pain can be a symptom of a heart attack. You might feel the discomfort in your shoulders, neck, jaw, or teeth. Take note if you’re dealing with other things along with your mouth, like sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, or shortness of breath.
You’ve Brightened Your Smile
Dealing with dingy teeth by bleaching? Your whitener may be to blame for throbbing teeth. Sensitivity can start 2-3 days into treatment but can go away after a few more. Your gums can feel irritated as you whiten, too.
Your Gums Are Starting to Give
When gums recede, they pull back the protective layer over your teeth’s nerves and leave them aching. It can be a sign of gum disease, so be sure your dentist knows if your pain comes with teeth that look longer, or if you have pus, mouth sores, bad breath, or bleeding when you brush.
You Need a Cancer Check
Oral cancer commonly shows up with mouth or tooth pain that doesn’t go away. Trigeminal neuralgia can also come from a tumor pressing on your facial nerves, but it’s rare.
Your Diet Is Too Acidic
Foods high in acid wear away enamel and leave teeth less protected. The top culprits include hard sugar candies, coffee, citrus fruits — like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits — and soda.
You Throw Up a Lot
Speaking of acid, your stomach is full of it. When you vomit, that can get on your teeth. If you vomit a lot, it can start to damage them. GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), pregnancy, chronic alcoholism, and bulimia are conditions that can lead to tooth trouble from throwing up too much.
You Don’t Drink Enough Water
Not only does water wash away the bits and pieces of food left behind after you eat, depending on where you get your water, it can also be full of fluoride, which keeps teeth strong and healthy. If you don’t drink enough water, your teeth could be in trouble.
Reviewed by Alfred D. Wyatt Jr., DMD