Toothaches That Don't Stem From Dental Cavities

Some people automatically think of dental cavities if they develop dental pain, but cavities are not the sole cause of dental pain. In fact, cavities do not always cause dental pain. The following are some of the common causes of dental pain.


Bruxism is a dental condition where you find yourself clenching and grinding your teeth all the time. You may even grind and clench your teeth while you sleep if you have bruxism. The condition has multiple causes such as stress, an abnormal bite, and missing teeth, among others. Bruxism may cause dental pain because it wears down the protective enamel and also places enormous stress on the teeth. Headaches often accompany bruxism-related pain.

TMJ Disorders

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ), one on each side of your face, connect the jawbone to the skull. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) affects the TMJ and causes pain both in the joint and in the nearby tissues. TMJ possibly has various causes that include jaw injury, genetics, and arthritis. TMJ, just like bruxism, can also trigger headaches.

Dental Injury

Dental injury or trauma can also trigger dental pain. In some cases the pain may be an instantaneous while, in other cases, the pain may kick in later. For example, an accident that loosens or cracks your teeth will definitely lead to dental pain. In some cases, you may only feel the pain when you eat or drink something cold. Such a symptom means the dental trauma has exposed the delicate tissues inside your teeth where the nerves are.

Dentin Hypersensitivity

The dentin is the second layer of your teeth after the enamel, which is the outermost layer. The dentin is relatively strong, but not as strong as the enamel. The dentin has pores that connect to the root of the teeth where the nerves are. Thus, if something, such as dental trauma or acid erosion of the teeth, damages the enamel, hot or cold stimuli may reach the nerves of your teeth and trigger pain. This condition is known as dentin hypersensitivity.

Non-Dental Issues

Lastly, some dental pains are not even caused by dental problems. For example, olfactory neuroblastoma is a rare malignant tumor that may trigger dental pain even though it doesn't affect the teeth directly. This is one of the reasons you should never ignore any tooth pain.

Don't assume a diagnosis for dental pain. Such an assumption can lead to erroneous at-home treatments. Instead, consult a dentist for professional diagnosis and treatment.