Common Causes Behind Why Your Tooth Aches

family dentist in Southwest Portland

As a family dentist in Southwest Portland, Dr. Hoang strives to provide every patient with a healthy, great-looking smile that lasts a lifetime. Of course, many patients think they have a healthy smile until a problem develops that causes them some type of discomfort. Whether a toothache, sensitivity to hot or cold, or a chipped tooth, it’s not uncommon for patients to wait for a problem to develop before they visit a family dentist in Southwest Portland.

Unfortunately, once a patient starts to experience an oral issue that causes pain, the problem behind the issue has already become quite serious. Unlike other areas of the body, underlying oral health problems linger for a long time before they cause any type of noticeable symptom. Once symptoms like oral pain manifest, it’s important that patients receive immediate care. The longer a patient wait to receive treatment, the more expensive it can become to fix whatever may be causing the discomfort.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common causes of tooth discomfort and what patients should do to help treat the issue.


The number one oral health issue that always comes to mind whenever patients feel any type of oral pain is cavities. Cavities typically cause the most discomfort whenever a patient eats or drinks hot or cold items, or when they chew their food.

When harmful oral bacteria builds up in the mouth, it develops into a sticky biofilm called plaque that sits on the surface of our teeth. Plaque then uses the sugars we consume to slowly erode away at the enamel that covers the delicate interior of our teeth. Given enough time, plaque can cause holes, or cavities, in our teeth that require a filling to treat.

If you think you have a cavity, the process of filling that cavity is fairly quick and discomfort-free process. However, depending on the severity of the cavity, you may need a crown to restore the tooth to health. A crown is used by Dr. Hoang to treat cavities that have grown too large for a traditional filling to properly treat.

During your dental exam, Dr. Hoang will be able to tell you whether a filling or crown is needed to treat your cavity.

Loose or Damaged Filling

If you feel a type of short, sharp, or dull tooth pain in a place where you’ve had a cavity filled, you may have experienced a damaged filling. While fillings offer lasting support to areas damaged by decay, the materials family dentist in Southwest Portland uses to fill a cavity can become damaged. Biting down too hard on certain types of foods can cause a filling to crack.

It’s also possible that the area surrounding a filling has been further damaged by plaque. When Dr. Hoang places a filling, she cleans out the hole and removes any bacteria that could contribute to the cavity growing larger. However, just because a filling has been placed doesn’t mean that at tooth is immune to further damage. Failing to properly brush and floss – the primary reasons why you may have developed a cavity to begin with – can lead to further decay. If that decay occurs to the areas of a tooth that support a filling, it can cause the filling to fail.

Increased Tooth Sensitivity

If you experience a sharp, stinging pain when eating or drinking hot and cold items, you may have developed a hypersensitivity. Typically, this occurs when gum recession exposes the sensitive nerves of our teeth.

Gum disease causes gum tissue to become inflamed. When left untreated, this inflammation causes our gum to pull away from the base of our teeth. This creates small gaps that expose the delicate roots and sensitive nerves that usually sit covered below the gum line. Drinking or eating hot or cold items then exposes those nerves to extreme temperatures, causing you to then experience a sharp pain.

To treat tooth sensitivity, Dr. Hoang needs to treat the underlying problem – gum disease. When restored back to health, gum tissue will heal and close up the gaps along the gum line. This in turn will prevent any discomfort from occurring due to cold or hot sensitivity.

Cracked Tooth

While tooth enamel ranks as one of the strongest parts of the body, years of wear and tear can cause enamel to eventually breakdown. Teeth can crack due to a variety of reasons, including as the result of tooth decay and cavities, and from biting down on something like a popcorn kernel.

Treatment for a cracked tooth will depend on the severity of the break. For minor cracks, Dr. Hoang may be able to repair the damage using a special type of resin. However, the majority of cracked teeth require a crown to fix. A crown placed over a cracked tooth will provide improved stability and support, further preventing any more damage from occurring.