Most of us have experienced a toothache before. It might be sharp or dull, occasional or constant, isolated or widespread, but it certainly isn’t comfortable. When any tooth begins to hurt, it’s time to contact a dentist, like Dr. Cindy Flanagan at our Houston practice. Tooth pain can occur anywhere in your smile, but it can be particularly troublesome when it comes from your molars. These back teeth are absolutely vital to your oral health, so it is important to get them checked as soon as possible if this occurs. The first step to handling molar toothache is finding its source. In the following blog, we explain why you might feel molar pain and how we can help you treat this condition.
What Are Molars?
Merriam Webster defines “molar” as: “a grinding tooth at the back of a mammal’s mouth.” Humans are, of course, mammals, and so we also have these important teeth. Our molars are the flattest, biggest teeth at the back of our mouths. Everyone has at least eight molars: two at the lower left, lower right, upper left, and upper right corners of the mouth. In addition, most people grow third molars behind these when they are teenagers. We call these wisdom teeth. As the dictionary definition suggest, the primary purpose of molars is to chew food.
Common Causes of Molar Toothache
There are a variety of reasons why your molars may begin to pulse with pain, throb, ache, or generally become irritated. The top sources of this type of discomfort include:
- Cavities. This is the most likely cause of any kind of toothache. Decay is an unfortunately widespread issue. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports: “92 percent of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth” and another “26 percent of adults 20 to 64” have suffered from “untreated decay.” Your back teeth may be more likely to become decayed because they are more difficult to brush and floss. Since they are used to grind food, they may also come into contact with more particulate matter that can attract cavity-causing bacteria.
- Infection. The same bacteria that cause decay can also infect the inner portions of your tooth, leading to molar pain. Just as the back teeth may be more prone to cavities, they may be at higher risk for infected roots.
- Trauma. If you crunch down too hard on a candy, get hit in the face, or experience any other sort of similar injury, your molars may chip or crack. This can be painful, as well as increasing your risk for cavities and infection.
- Bruxism. Your molars are, by definition, meant for grinding, but they are not supposed to gnash against each other. However, due to stress, an improper bite, or other issues, many people grind their teeth together. This condition is called bruxism. It can wear down the enamel of your molars, causing sensitivity and toothache. It can also disrupt the function of your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ.
- Wisdom tooth eruption. Typically, these third molars begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. The tooth growing, breaking through the gums, and putting pressure on the surrounding molars can be an uncomfortable process, causing molar toothache.
- Restoration damage. Due to many of the above problems, you may have restorations like fillings or crowns on your molars. If these become loose, worn down, or otherwise damaged, your back teeth may feel sore once again.
Any of the above could be the culprit for your molar pain. Fortunately, Dr. Flanagan can help.
Your course of treatment will depend on the exact cause of your molar pain. If cavities are the problem, we can remove the decayed portion of the tooth and put a tooth-colored filling in its place. If your molar has become infected, we will likely recommend root canal therapy, and perhaps a dental crown. We can also help repair trauma with various restorative and cosmetic methods. Dr. Flanagan can assist with bruxism by prescribing a special mouth guard or splint, in addition to other remedies. If your wisdom teeth are erupting at an improper angle or affected by other oral health issues, we may recommend removing them. Dr. Flanagan and our team can also help you in repairing or replacing damaged restorations.
No matter the source of your molar pain, we will diagnose your condition and create a customized treatment plan for you. Dr. Flanagan will help alleviate your discomfort and mend your molars.
Do You Feel Pain Inside Your Molars?
The longer you let this toothache go on untreated, the worse it will become. The best way to protect your smile is to come and see us at our Houston dental practice. Contact us today to find out more and schedule an appointment with Dr. Flanagan!