Typically, toothache doesn’t affect the entire set of teeth; but is usually felt in and around one or several teeth. The affected tooth/teeth may be at the front, middle or back of the mouth. One area where some people may experience pain is in and around the front teeth. This front tooth pain is felt in many different ways, depending on the cause. But, whatever the cause, aching front teeth can cause severe discomfort and may even disrupt your lifestyle including the inability to eat, sleep and function normally.
This article by Holly Olson takes a look at what causes front teeth pain and what you can do about it.
Front Tooth Pain: Why Do My Front Teeth Ache?
1. You Are Experiencing Gum Recession
Naturally, you always want to get your front teeth glowing and sparkling. And to achieve this, you may find yourself brushing aggressively or by applying extra pressure on your toothbrush. But brushing too aggressively or applying too much pressure can be counterproductive, since it wears away at the tooth enamel and also causes the recession of the gums that usually cover the root structure of the tooth – leading to problems like extreme sensitivity and pain particularly when eating and drinking cold food items or beverages.
2. You’re Sensitive to Temperature
Tooth sensitivity to heat can sometimes be accompanied by pain and this may be the problem affecting your front teeth. It occurs when the protective structures that normally cover the tooth’s inner nerves become worn away or sustain damage. Damage to, or wearing down of, these structures can result from a variety of factors, ranging from overly aggressive brushing and/or flossing to abnormal tooth positioning.
If your pain or discomfort in and around front teeth occurs when – or immediately after – eating hot or cold food items, then sensitivity to temperature could be the ultimate cause of the problem and you need to address it.
3. You Have Experienced Tooth Trauma
Accidents do happen – to everyone, and when these accidents involve your mouth, they can cause cracked front tooth/teeth and pain on the affected teeth. The front teeth, especially those on the upper jaw, are more prone to traumatic injury. This is obviously because of their front position in the mouth, which often sees them act as the “first line of defense” when one receives a blow or bump to the mouth. Whether the force to the mouth is from being struck by the hockey stick or the ball or simply falling flat on your face, the groups of teeth that are more likely to be affected are those at the front. Tooth trauma may also result from chewing some types of hard foods.
When trauma affects teeth, its effects can last for years and you may feel pain as a result of an incident that happened many years ago. This pain and sensitivity from tooth trauma are usually felt when chewing food, an act that flexes and irritates the nerve endings within the front teeth.
4. You Have a Gum Infection
Gum infection around the front teeth or other groups of teeth can cause pain. It is caused by the proliferation of germs or bacteria (bad bacteria) in and around the front teeth and gum area. Once the infection progresses, it may cause the gums and the deeper periodontal structures to become inflamed. This inflammation is often characterized by pain and/or swelling as well as other unpleasant symptoms like a small pimple around the tooth or above the gum area, release of pus, and bad taste in the mouth.
5. You Clench or Grind Your Teeth While Asleep
Regular or habitual, persistent teeth grinding (bruxism) can cause front teeth pain and discomfort and may even wear down your front teeth. Sometimes, the involuntary excessive grinding, clenching and gnashing of teeth caused by this condition can result in fractured teeth leading to sensitivity and more pain. If you suffer from this condition, then this could be a possible cause of your front tooth pain.
6. You’ve Had Dental Work Done on the Front Teeth
If you’ve had dental work done on your front teeth, then this could be the source of your pain. Drillings or fillings often cause the affected teeth to become sensitive and this sensitivity may be felt when drinking cold beverages or when eating cold food. You might also feel a mild ache or discomfort.
7. You Have Dental Abscess
Dental abscess is a condition that occurs when there’s a bacteria buildup in the tooth and the underlying gum tissue. The bacterial build-up starts within the tooth pulp before percolating to the gum tissue through the root tips. If not addressed promptly, it causes severe infection that is characterized by inflammation of tissues and pain.
8. You Have Pulp Inflammation
If you have pulpitis in your front teeth, then it can cause you pain and discomfort. This condition affects the pulp, the central portion of the teeth, making it to become irritated and swollen. This, in turn, results in pressure build-up within the teeth; and the inflammation may spread to other tooth tissues and cause pain.
9. You Have Tooth Cavity
If your front teeth have been affected by severe tooth decay or cavities, then you’re more likely than not to feel pain. When tooth decay is left untreated, it usually advances to form cavities that reach the pulp. At this stage, nerves will be exposed, causing sensitivity and pain.
10. You Have a Cracked or Broken Tooth
Tooth breakage, cracks or fractures on your front teeth can lead to sensitivity and pain. These cracks are caused by a number of things, including trauma and conditions like bruxism. But, whatever the cause, cracked or broken front teeth can lead to pain and sensitivity when biting or chewing hot or cold foods and drinks as well as those sour and sweet items.
Ways To Ease Front Tooth Pain
Pain in the front teeth is not always severe. In fact, in most cases, front tooth pain and other forms of toothache are normally intermittent and you may feel it’s not worth scheduling a dentist appointment. However, waiting until the pain in your front teeth becomes worse is never a good idea. Whatever the severity of your front teeth ache, it is recommended that you ask your dentist to check your teeth. The causes of pain in and around the front teeth are not always clear, and a comprehensive diagnosis followed by professional treatment that conclusively addresses the problem is definitely the best cause of action.
But nonetheless, there some things you can do to relieve the pain and discomfort while you wait for your dentist appointment. One of these is taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, aspirin, or a topical ointment that contains benzocaine. Over-the-counter topical ointments for pain relief are applied directly on the affected front teeth and gums. Applying ice (cold compress) on the paining region may also help reduce swelling and pain.
However, sometimes leaving the painful front teeth alone may be all that is needed to deal with the problem. Pain resulting from dental work and trauma may go away on its own after a decent time interval. Just try to avoid using the painful front teeth in biting and chewing until the ache goes away.
If the pain doesn’t subside, you have no choice but see your dentist. Your dental professional will be able to assess your teeth and provide you with the most effective treatment to relieve pain once and for all.
What a doctor can do
If you have diabetes or heart disease your doctor will determine the best course of action for your condition as well as an appropriate treatment for symptoms like tooth pain.
There are several dental procedures that can address the underlying cause:
- If you have advanced periodontal disease, your dentist or a specialist known as a periodontist may do deep cleaning procedures designed to remove tartar and plaque from below the gumline. Other procedures, such as deep cleaning or dental surgery, may be required.
- Impacted teeth are typically removed by an oral surgeon.
- A tooth that is cracked or damaged may require a root canal if the nerve has died or been damaged beyond repair. Pulpitis and dental abscesses may also be treated this way. In some instances, a tooth extraction may be used to completely remove the tooth.
Maintaining good dental habits is your best way to avoid many causes of front tooth pain. Brush and floss daily, but not too hard or with a brush with stiff bristles.
Front tooth pain has a wide range of causes. If your pain is constant or doesn’t resolve quickly, see a dentist or doctor. They can help you become pain free more quickly. Some causes of tooth pain are more serious than others. Seeing a professional is your best bet for determining the right fix.