Why Do I Feel a Popping Sensation in My Tooth?

You bite into a sandwich or drink a cold glass of water and you suddenly feel something strange in your tooth: a popping. Although it sounds unusual, several of our patients have experienced this sensation. Fortunately, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston team are here to help you address any and all dental concerns. Teeth are complex structures with a lot going on “behind the scenes”. If you’re experiencing this feeling, there’s a good chance that whatever is causing it is happening below the surface. Below, we explore some of the reasons you may be feeling a popping sensation and how we can help.

Pressure Changes

You’re probably familiar with that ear popping sensation you feel on an airplane, especially during takeoff and landing. This irritating phenomenon occurs when the pressure outside of the ear isn’t equal to the pressure inside of it. After the ear fully pops, you typically feel better. That’s because the popping sensation is your body’s attempt to equalize the pressure put on it.

A similar phenomenon can occur with your teeth if air gets inside of them. You could have air within your tooth if:

  • You have a crack or chip in your tooth – even if it’s so tiny that you can’t see it.

  • You have a decayed tooth. The cavity in your enamel could let air into your tooth.

  • You’ve recently had a dental restoration placed. A slightly misplaced filling or crown could have left a tiny gap in its tooth coverage.

Whatever the culprit, the mechanism is the same: air gets inside the tooth and when it hits something cold or the tooth is under pressure, the air inside the tooth rises to equalize, resulting in a “pop.”

If caused by a change in atmospheric pressure (as with a trip on an airplane or a scuba diving excursion), this condition is called barodontalgia. According to an article in a scientific journal, “barodontalgia is the oral pain which evoked during changes of the atmospheric pressure. This manifestation can be classified as a direct or non-direct pain.” A popping sensation is one symptom of barodontalgia.

This popping is not usually painful, but it can be. If you experience extreme pressure changes, such as on an airplane, and have a dental condition that allows air into your tooth, the pain could be excruciating. The scientific journal cited above explains that barodontalgia discomfort “can cause a decrease in life quality and jeopardize the safety of flight or diving.” Typically, tooth popping symptoms subside when atmospheric pressure returns to normal (such as when your plane lands). However, if you ever experience this sensation, it’s important to see a dentist like Dr. Flanagan as soon as possible. Barodontalgia is an indicator of injury to the tooth, and this will typically worsen if neglected.

If a crack, chip, or cavity is the cause of your tooth popping sensation, Dr. Flanagan and our team can treat it with a filling or dental crown. If an improperly positioned restoration is the cause of your symptom, we can repair or replace it.

Dental Abscesses

Another oral condition that could lead to a popping sensation is a dental abscess. We’ve explained above that when a tooth is damaged, air can get trapped inside it, but bacteria can also infect it. This bacterial infection causes a pocket of pus called an abscess. Mayo Clinic explains that an “abscess can occur at different regions of the tooth for different reasons” and “usually occurs as a result of an untreated dental cavity, an injury, or prior dental work.” As with enamel damage, this abscess can cause a “pop” when it comes in contact with cold or has pressure put on it.

Whether or not your tooth is popping, a dental abscess needs to be treated immediately. Without proper attention, the infection will likely become more severe and spread to surrounding tissue, as well as other parts of the body. Common symptoms of a dental abscess include:

  • The appearance of a sac (which may look like a raised bump or bubble) in your gums (this is the abscess itself)

  • Toothache

  • A bitter taste in the mouth

  • Chronic bad breath

  • Swollen gums

  • Extreme sensitivity in the affected tooth

  • Fever

If you experience a tooth popping or any of the above symptoms, contact our Houston dental practice. Dr. Flanagan will examine your mouth, diagnose your condition, and help you alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms of your dental abscess. This may include draining the abscess, using root canal therapy to treat the infection, and taking antibiotics to help your body fight off the bacteria that caused it. In severe cases, the tooth may need to be pulled. While this is rare, if it does occur, Dr. Flanagan can replace the appearance and function of the lost tooth with dental implants.

A Sinus Situation

While it may sound strange, it’s possible your tooth popping sensation could have little to do with your teeth. As you now know, most tooth popping symptoms are related to pressure, since the “pop” is your body’s effort to stabilize pressure changes in your mouth or in the environment.

Your sinuses are also susceptible to this pressure. They sit directly over your teeth, so it’s possible that you’re feeling a popping sensation in your teeth because your sinuses are affected. A 2014 article published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation notes that “sinus pain referred to tooth/teeth” is one of the categories of what is technically termed “nonodontogenic toothache,” which means dental discomfort caused by something other than the teeth. If you’re suffering from allergies, infection, or another condition that could affect your sinuses, this might be the source of your tooth popping sensation.

Even if this is the case, it’s important to get your teeth checked out. Dr. Flanagan can help rule out common dental conditions that cause this symptom and refer you to an appropriate specialist to address your sinuses.

What To Do About a Popping Sensation

If you’re already experiencing popping, we urge you to come see us for a thorough examination, diagnosis, and treatment. In the meantime, while you’re waiting for your appointment, we recommend that you avoid cold foods and any activities that require changing atmospheric pressure.

Preventing Popping

If you’ve never suffered from this strange symptom, there are key things you can do to prevent it. Coming in for your preventive care appointments twice a year, brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and eating a balanced diet can help you maintain optimal oral health.

Are Your Teeth Popping?

Our Houston dental practice is here to assist you! Contact us today to learn more about this symptom and schedule your next visit.

Original Source: https://flanagansmiles.com/restorations/feel-popping-sensation-tooth-2/

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