If your tooth is hurting you, you will likely go to the dentist right away to try to figure out what’s wrong. Your expectation is probably that it’s a cavity or some other trauma or decay-related damage to your tooth, and it often is, but it’s not always. In fact, there are five common reasons why tooth pain may not be in your tooth.

Heart Problems Felt in the Tooth

One possibility is that pain in your tooth is actually being referred from your heart. Referred pain is a bit mysterious, but basically our nervous system doesn’t work like a modern telephone system: it has a “party line” where the pain signals coming into your brain could be coming from several different places and  your brain has to guess which one is the source.

Because the heart is an unexpected place for pain to originate, your brain will often think heart pain is coming from other places, such as your left arm, jaw, or tooth.

Muscle Pain in the Tooth

Another potential source of referred pain in the tooth is muscles of the upper jaw. When these muscles are sore, they can cause your teeth to hurt.

Sinus Toothache

If you have sinus pressure because of sickness or allergies, the pressure can affect the nerves running through your upper jaw to your tooth. This pressure on the nerve leads to pain felt in your tooth.

Nerve Degeneration Toothache

Sometimes if your nerves are suffering damage, they can experience pain, which will then be interpreted by your brain as coming from your tooth. This is known as neuropathy, and it can be congenital or can result from exposure to toxins, poisons, or medications. Some other health conditions can result in neuropathy, such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and infections.

Tooth Migraine

Sometimes your migraine pain can feel as if it’s coming from your tooth. This may either be instead of coming from your head, or as part of a painful sensation across your head and face. This is known as an atypical migraine, and is relatively rare.

When to Get a Second Opinion

For the most part, your tooth pain is likely caused by the standard reasons. But it isn’t always, and it’s a good idea to get a

second opinion if your dentist is proposing an invasive procedure, such as a root canal or a tooth extraction to treat your toothache, especially if your toothache seems to come and go regularly or if there’s no evidence on your dental x-ray that a cavity or infection of your tooth might be responsible.

For a second opinion from Irvine dentist Dr. Scott Rice, please call 949-551-5902 today.