Why Does Tooth Pain Hurt So Bad? (Podcast)
Dr. Nammy Patel from Green Dentistry talks with John Maher about why tooth pain hurts so bad. She explains some of the causes and treatments for tooth pain, and then, she outlines why it’s always better to seek help for tooth pain as soon as possible rather than waiting.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health, and whole-body health, and author of the best-selling book Age With Style: Guide To A Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. Today our topic is, why does tooth pain hurt so bad? Welcome Dr. Nammy Patel.
Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John. Thank you for having me.
Why Is Tooth Pain So Severe?
Dr. Nammy: This is a real question by the way.
John: Of course, tooth pain hurts, but why is tooth pain just so severe? Some people, when you get a pain in and it’s all you can think about and you can’t get your work done because it’s just there constantly. Are there a lot of nerves in your teeth that are causing that? Or what is it that really causes your teeth to hurt when they get like that?
Dr. Nammy: One of the things that causes the teeth to hurt is when the nerve is involved. So there’s one big nerve and the reason why it hurts so much is because when we look at our body, like on the outside, our skin has such a protective layer. It’s got seven layers before we actually get inside and underneath.
With our teeth, it’s the same thing. It has the outer layer, which is the enamel, the middle layer, which is called the dentin, and then the inner layer, which is called the nerve. So anytime that nerve is affected, it is really, really, really painful. That throbby pain that you talk about, that you can’t do anything. It’s like a dental emergency: can’t work, can’t focus, can’t do anything. It just requires immediate attention.
The reason for that is because the nerve is affected, it’s… Think about instead of cutting your finger while you’re cutting with a knife, you cut the whole finger off. So the pain is that severe because you have… the diseaser has gone so deep into the nerve, so it has breached the outer barriers and right into the center of the pain, for sure.
Does Tooth Pain Also Indicate a Problem?
John: Are there sometimes when you might have some tooth pain, maybe not that really terrible, terrible pain, but a little bit of tooth pain that’s maybe not quite so severe or important? Or is it always if you have pain in your teeth, that there’s a problem that really needs to get checked out?
Dr. Nammy: Sometimes there’s pain if you clench a lot, you’ll feel soreness in your teeth when you wake up in the mornings. Otherwise, if you have gum recession and if you drink something hot or cold, there’ll be some sensitivity. There’ll also be some pain from hitting a fork on your tooth or something like that. Those are all reasons for pain and it’s kind of hard to determine the severity of it. So my advice would be to check it out with the dentist. Check out what the reason for that is.
If it’s as simple as, “Oh my God, I was just grinding too much. Let me focus on not grinding as much. ” Fantastic. That is the ideal and the best situation. The worst situation is if you wait too long and then it starts throbbing significantly. Like you feel a little bit of pain, then it goes away so you forget about it and you go on to daily life, and then all of a sudden, right before you’re going to go on vacation, you get this throbby pain, or you’re on vacation, you get this throbby pain and makes you have an emergency. That’s the worst. So I would say if you have any sort of discomfort or pain, make sure to check it out with the dentist just to make sure everything’s okay.
What Can Happen With Untreated Tooth Pain?
John: Right. If you don’t get it checked out right away and you do continue to have that pain and it’s left untreated, what are some of the things that could happen?
Dr. Nammy: Oh, boy. That is not good news. That’s called a dead tooth. And so, believe it or not, teeth can die. When they’re dead, it’s like having a necrotic part in our body. And so if you start having pain and then it goes away over a period of time, our nerves do die so you won’t feel it anymore.
Bacteria will still continue to eat away at the tooth, will continue to cause havoc with gum disease and cavities and things like that. So, I would just say don’t wait, get it taken care of. The sooner you go, the better it is. Because what are you waiting for? Things to get worse? It doesn’t make any sense.
If I had a house and there was a leak, I’m not going to be like, “Oh, let me wait for a big storm to come and then I’ll go ahead and fix it.” If there’s a leak, you’re like, “Let me patch that up right away.” Your insurance company’s not even going to warranty you (you know what I mean?) if there was a small leak that wasn’t addressed in advance and things like that.
Ignoring Dental Pain Can Lead to Worse Issues
John: Right, absolutely. Yeah. And like you said, if you have pain and then it goes away, don’t think that that just means that, “Oh, okay. There’s no problem anymore.” It might be that it’s gotten so bad that the nerve is dead now and you still have that problem.
Dr. Nammy: Right. Right. So I say have it checked out. The beauty about all this stuff is as soon as you have it checked out, you can get a solution, which is even more amazing, when you know, “Hey, if there’s a cavity, take care of it while it’s smaller.” What are you waiting for? The cavity to get bigger? It’s only going to cost you more money; it’s going to cause you more pain; it’s going to… and hurt more, right? So why? You know?
Dr. Nammy: Why do that and just waste more money. Get it taken care of while it’s smaller, easier, and it’s enjoyable experience and that way you don’t have to be traumatized.
What Are Some Treatment Options for Dental Pain?
John: So what are some of the treatments for tooth pain? I suppose it depends on what it is that’s causing that pain, but what are some of the general treatments? And then, what are some holistic treatments that you use that maybe your average dentist doesn’t?
Dr. Nammy: The causes for the tooth pain determine the treatment… we want to see why you’re having pain. If there’s a cavity, obviously you need to fill it. As a holistic dentist, we use BPA-free fillings and that totally makes sense, or biocompatible crowns.
If it’s coming from grinding, we want to figure out where that grinding is from. Is it because of stress? Is it because they have apnea: they’re not able to breathe through the nose? Then we want to address those concerns. And then there are times where people just have gum recession because of aging. For those patients, we use ozone therapy. So ozone is really wonderful because it’s extra oxygen and we can actually use ozone therapy to desensitize that tooth, so that way there’s no pain. What oxygen actually does or ozone actually does is kill off all the bad bugs that exist and put a little protective layer around it with a little bit of varnish and stuff.
Contact Green Dentistry If You Have Tooth Pain
John: All right. Well, that’s really good information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Dr. Nammy: My pleasure.
John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415) 433-0119.