A Mysterious Toothache with No Answers to
Are you or someone you know experiencing some mysterious ache in your teeth that no doctor or dentist has answers to? Clinical examination of surrounding structures appear normal, but you know for sure that something is wrong. Mysterious toothaches can be frustrating, and are notoriously difficult to diagnose. There is a wide assortment of possible causes, and symptoms can overlap. They can also be rare, so not every medical professional may have the experience to recognise them in order to give the right diagnosis.
Patients may end up doing more and more medical tests, or trying inappropriate dental treatments that may add to their pain. Unnecessary root canals, orthodontic treatments and even teeth extractions are done, yet the pain remains or worsens. Whilst some patients do experience temporary relief from such treatments, the problem usually returns.
What are the Causes of These Mysterious Toothaches?
Mysterious toothaches can develop for many reasons, and what’s surprising is that the tooth in itself may not even be the main cause. Some other possibilities of mysterious toothaches include:
- A compressed nerve
- An autoimmune or CNS (Central Nervous System) dysfunction
- A fault in muscular or bone structures
- Post-surgery trauma
- Psychogenic factors such as stress or depression
Let’s take a look at what some of the more common causes behind them.
Trigeminal Neuralgia: One of the More ‘Common’ Causes
Trigeminal Neuralgia is one of the more ‘common’ causes of pain in the face and teeth. It is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which is one of the most widely distributed nerves in your head that’s attached to the brain. As such, the pain is classified as neuropathic in nature, which means that it’s related to sensory nervous system. It can manifest in two forms: Type 1 and Type 2. The occurrence of Trigeminal Neuralgia increases in patients with Multiple Sclerosis, and is also more common in women, especially for those over 50.
The intensity of the pain can be incapacitating and the unpredictability is disruptive, which reduces the patient’s quality of life. The classic Type 1 form of the disorder can cause extreme, electric shock-like pain that comes in sudden bursts, which last between a few seconds to minutes. The atypical Type 2 form of the disorder tends to manifest in a more constant, stabbing pain that’s somewhat lower in intensity than in Type 1.
It is important to note that treatments between these two forms of Trigeminal Neuralgia differ. Patients have found relief from either medications, injections, or surgery. Your own physiological needs, health condition, specific problems and preference all play a role.
Burning Mouth Syndrome: Another Leading Cause
Another more ‘common’ source of mysterious toothaches can be from Burning Mouth Syndrome. Whilst a third of patients claim that the pain started after a bout of illness, medications or dental work, most can’t link it to any specific event. Once again, women especially those post-menopause are the primary group affected by this disorder.
Other possibilities for Burning Mouth Syndrome include:
- Dentures with a poor fit
- Allergies to materials used in dentures
- Allergies to ingredients used in toothpaste, mouthwashes, or anything you may use within your mouth
- Autoimmune disorders, such as Sjögren’s Syndrome
Symptoms for Burning Mouth Syndrome may include a burning or scalding sensation, which varies in intensity throughout the day. It can affect your tongue, lips, gums, and/or parts of your mouth. You may also experience increased thirst and dry mouth. Eating or drinking may help to relieve these symptoms for a while.
There are two forms of Burning Mouth Syndrome – Primary and Secondary. In Primary Burning Mouth Syndrome, no clinical abnormalities are found. Whereas in its Secondary form, an underlying medical condition is usually the cause. This could be due to nutritional deficiencies, fungal infections, allergies, or side effects from medications or other health issues. Whilst there is no targeted treatment for Burning Mouth Syndrome, there are some measures you can take to prevent and control the pain.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Myofascial Toothache
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and myofascial toothache are some other causes of mysterious toothaches. These are fairly common mouth problems, but many are unaware that they even have them.
The patient may experience pain not only in their teeth, but also the surrounding areas such as the jaw, head, face and even ears. The intensity may increase with chewing or jaw stretching activities, and can vary throughout the day. There are often trigger points in myofascial pain as well, where the patient is able to pinpoint where it hurts exactly. (You can click here to read more about TMD and how we can help.)
Treatment and Management of Chronic Pain Conditions
These are just a few possibilities behind that mysterious toothache. A chronic pain condition is one which never seems to fully go away; treatment and management as such, differs from that of acute pain. It is important to find a good dentist you can trust and work with. Someone who knows and understands your medical history and how it changes over time. This is important for picking out unusual patterns in order to curb potential problems, and manage existing ones.
How Nourish Dental Care Can Help
Nourish Dental Care uses the latest technology to diagnose, treat and manage each patient’s condition. Dr. Chionh who runs the practice has many years of experience, and specialises in dental implants, TMD, and other mouth and jaw conditions.
He holds full membership in all four Royal Surgical Colleges of the United Kingdom & Ireland. He has also gone through formal residency training in Orofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine, to earn his certification and accreditation in these areas. (Click here for more information.) Visit him today for a consultation if you are considering dental implants, suffering from TMD, sleep apnoea or other orofacial pain.