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Oral Health Buzz

Tooth Pain: What Could It Mean?

Deirdre Mundy

Your daughter stumbles into the kitchen with dark rings under her eyes. "Mommy, my teeth hurt," she whines. Your son picks at his food. "If I eat it now, my teeth will hurt," he explains. Your teeth ache, even though you just went to the dentist. You go to the dentist every six months. You are cavity free. So what is the deal with all of this tooth pain?

Sinus Sorrows

Allergies or colds may be running wild when your daughter makes her complaint. Even with antihistamines, sinuses can suffer. If your child's painful teeth are combined with allergies, drainage or just a run-down, not-right feeling, you may want to make a call. Not to her dentist, but to her doctor. Your teeth and their nerves are very close to your sinuses. That means that when your sinuses are inflamed, they can make your teeth ache.

In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, an ache in the upper teeth can often be a sign of a sinus infection. If you have known sinus issues combined with aching teeth, or if you have had a sinus cold you just can't kick and your teeth start hurting, you may want to call your doctor. A prescription for antibiotics and nose spray will often make the teeth stop hurting.

Deep Cleaning Sensitive Teeth

Some people get a toothache the day after a visit to the dentist. It can happen even when your dentist has gentle, kind and competent dental hygienists who make your teeth sparkling clean. Your teeth didn't hurt before the dentist. He has declared you free of cavities. Your X-rays came out nicely and there is no decay, and you know he did a good job. So what is the source of this tooth pain? When you have a lot of tartar, it is normal to feel minor discomfort after a dental cleaning. Why? The teeth could be sensitive if you have gum recession and the discomfort can occur from the exposed root surface.

The hot coffee that didn't bother you two days ago suddenly makes your teeth hurt because they are newly sensitive to heat and cold. The sensitivity is only temporary. You can brush your teeth with Colgate Sensitive�� toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Usually, your teeth will return to normal within a few weeks. If they do not, call your dentist, and ask him to check them.

Teething Isn't Just for Babies

All parents know that teething hurts babies. Infants cry, their noses run, they are miserable and they can't sleep. Did you know that school-age kids can experience teething pain, too? Sometimes, aching teeth may simply mean that permanent teeth are on their way. This can be especially true for kids who lost their baby teeth prematurely.

A child who knocked out his front teeth as an active 3-year-old may experience pain when his new teeth finally come in. His permanent teeth have to push through his gums, which have completely healed in the intervening years. As a result, his gums and the surrounding teeth ache. It is not only children with previous premature tooth loss who experience teething pain. Many 6-year-olds get headaches when their molars come in. The pain is not just in their heads. Teething can hurt at any age.

If your older child seems to be experiencing teething pain, please consult with a pediatric dentist. A good dentist can give you insight into where your children are in the teething process and when you can expect the tooth pain to stop. In the meantime, try to give your children productive outlets for the pain. Let them chew xylitol-based chewing gum, encourage them to brush the affected areas and, when necessary, give them child-safe pain reducers so that they can function.

Cavities are not the only things that can make your teeth hurt. Sometimes, oral pain is a sign of other changes in your body. With regular trips to the dentist and good oral hygiene, you can ensure that your family's teeth are healthy and strong. Then, when tooth pain starts, you can take the time to track down the root causes.

Learn more about tooth pain in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Flickr/Judit Klein

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