Why Do Teeth Hurt When You’re Sick?

Why Do Teeth Hurt When You’re Sick?

Posted by Dr. Thomas Flavin Dec 17,2022

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Your teeth can hurt for a number of reasons. Some dental issues, such as cavities or gum disease, can cause pain. But your teeth can also hurt for no known reason at all.

What causes toothaches?

  • Dry mouth. Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria in your mouth. When you’re sick with a cold or flu, a lack of saliva can cause decay or cavities in your teeth. Medications can also dry out your mouth and cause pain when you eat. Some medications also cause heartburn or acid reflux which causes stomach acid to come in contact with the sensitive parts of your teeth, causing pain.
  • Gum disease. An infection of the gums, known as periodontitis, may be caused by poor oral health habits such as not brushing regularly or not flossing regularly. The infection causes the gums to become swollen and red. If gum disease isn’t treated, the condition can progress to the bone that supports the teeth resulting in tooth loss.
  • Tooth sensitivity. Sensitivity occurs when dentin is exposed when your gums recede or when enamel erodes. If tooth sensitivity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious conditions such as periodontal disease or a cavity. Cavities are tooth decay that destroys the outer layer of your tooth. Once the decay gets deep into the tooth, it can cause an infection in the pulp tissue which can result in a painful abscess.
  • Abscessed tooth. If your tooth has become severely infected, it can die and become abscessed. An abscessed tooth can cause significant pain and look like a large pimple on your gum. If the abscess ruptures, the infection can spread to other areas of your body and cause life-threatening complications such as sepsis or meningitis. A dentist can treat an abscessed tooth by removing the dead nerve tissue within the root chamber and placing a sedative medication inside the tooth to kill the nerve. Drains may be placed around your tooth to drain the pus from the abscess. In severe cases, the tooth may need to be removed.
  • Jaw joint: Your teeth are connected to your jaw joint by ligaments and muscles. The muscles and ligaments can get irritated or inflamed when you’re sick or under stress. This inflammation can cause pain and throbbing in the jaw. This is especially common in people who have temporomandibular disorders, or TMDs. If you have jaw pain, try a gargle of salt water and take an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol or Advil to relieve pain and inflammation. See a dentist as soon as possible if your symptoms don’t improve within a day or two.

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