Why do my bottom teeth hurt: Exploring the causes of toothache

Why do my bottom teeth hurt: isolated event or underlying problem?

A doctor answers “why do my bottom teeth hurt?”

Dental pain is a very common problem. Every single one of us has felt the pain of decay or a pocket at least once during their lifetime. Of course not all dental pain is the same, and the reasons for a toothache are numerous, which is why we aim to answer the lifetime question of “why do I have a toothache?” and in particular “why do my bottom teeth hurt?”

This may come as a shock to you, but there is a reason behind our topic, and that is: bottom teeth are more liable to pain than top teeth!!

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As strange as that sounds, but it is a well-known fact among dentists. The difference is minor, so do not take it as an excuse to brush and floss the lower teeth only and ignore the upper, since they can feel pain all the same. Bottom teeth are more prone because of a simple law of nature: gravity. Gravity exerts its pull on bacteria and plaque, and therefore it is more likely for food to get trapped between the contacts of lower teeth. Not only that, but the saliva secreted from the glands in the lower jaw is of different structure than that secreted by the glands of the upper jaw, being more viscous and of less volume, so you would expect lower teeth to be more prone to decay and periodontal disease.

So why do my bottom teeth hurt, you say?!

  1. 1

    Decay:
    Of course the most common cause of pain is decay and caries. Everyone gets affected by decay, and people who don’t take care of their oral hygiene are even more liable. Decay starts because of the bacteria in the plaque. When the plaque is left uncleaned for a few days, the bacteria start to release acids that dissolve the outer layer of the teeth (that is the protective enamel), paving the way for bacteria to ingress into the soft inner layers, and the pain starts. Once the bacteria and acids reach the inner most layer (known as the pulp), the pain becomes unbearable and you may feel your teeth about to explode.

  2. 2

    Gum disease:
    The second most common cause of teeth pain is gum and periodontal disease. It starts simple, a few bleeding points, a bit of itching sensation, and most of us overlook these, but once the situation reached the point of no return (that is when bone loss happens) you will wish you hadn’t overlooked it. You may have experienced this sort of immense pain before, and you probably asked yourself why do my teeth hurt when I drink some water, and sometimes even when I breathe? The answer to that is because of severe gum disease, where the bone and ligaments are gone, exposing the very sensitive root, and almost anything even something as minor as a glass of water would leave you in agony.

  3. 3

    Trauma:
    You may not know this, but teeth get bruised just as much as the skin; however, the teeth won’t show a bluish circle or swelling, instead they feel a bit wobbly in your mouth and you would definitely experience pain when you bite. This happens when you accidentally bite down on something hard, or if you had a minor accident involving the teeth. The area around the tooth that holds it in place inside the bone (known as the periodontal ligament) feels a shock and is now in a state of disarray. The pain mediators are firing on all cylinders and even the tiniest touch would render you in pain, but fear not, in most cases this condition passes on its own and no major treatment is needed.
    However, if the knock was severe that it broke a tooth or even worse a part of the bone, then you need medical attention NOW!!

  4. 4

    Tooth grinding and clenching:
    A lot of people suffer from this, and most are unfortunately unaware. Sometimes you just woke up and you feel immense pressure on your teeth (especially bottom teeth again because of gravity) and you feel a headache encircling your entire skull, and you think “why am I in so much pain when I just woke up and the day hasn’t even started?” the answer is because you grind your teeth during sleep. This not only affects the teeth, but on the long run could affect the joint of the jaw as well, and therefore needs immediate attention, as the solution is very simple .. A night guard.
    Some people even grind and mash their teeth when they are awake, which is a sign of severe stress that needs to be addressed soon for a chance of recovery.

  5. 5

    Cracks:
    When you accidentally bite down on something hard, such as a seed of a fruit, 3 things could happen:

  • Nothing on the outside and nothing on the inside, and there you have been most fortunate.

  • A part of the tooth breaks off, so you feel a rough surface or some slight pain and you seek attention from a professional

  • Nothing on the outside, but inside the tooth suffered a crack.
    A crack is much worse than a part of the tooth breaking off, simply because it is virtually undetectable even for professional eyes. Your dentist would identify a crack through a process of exclusion, where heshe rules out every other cause of pain and finally reach the diagnosis of a crack. A crack is also very hard to treat, and usually requires a very aggressive approach such as crowns.

6. Leaky filling:
If you have had a restoration to your teeth, especially if it has been done a few years ago, and you start feeling pain in that tooth, it is more likely to be because of a faulty filling that needs to be changed ASAP.

These are the most common causes of tooth pain, but certainly not all. Other causes are a bit more rare such as abscesses and hot tooth syndrome, but when you wonder “why my bottom teeth hurt” it will probably be one of the above causes.

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