If you’ve ever bitten down on your tooth and thought Ow! – then you might assume you’re in need of a filling.
But there could be another explanation.
Sprained tooth syndrome (also known as STS or a bruised tooth) is real, and just like any other part of your body, it’s possible to ‘pull a muscle’, so to speak, around your mouth.
How do you get a sprained tooth?
First, it’s important to understand how the teeth work.
Your teeth are held in place in your jaw by ligaments. These give your tooth some room for movement so that it can resist minor blows and even the force of chewing (without which the flow of blood to your tooth would be blocked and your tooth would die).
But when these ligaments are subjected to inordinate pressure (or trauma), they inflame and impact on the tooth’s nerve. You may feel the result as a sharp pain or sensitivity.
What’s the difference between a sprained tooth and tooth decay?
The main difference between a sprained tooth and toothache caused by decay is that STS is usually localised to a specific tooth. On the other hand, toothache can be difficult to pin down. An X-ray will usually determine if you have decay as opposed to a sprain.
Tooth sprain could be caused by a number of things:
Chewing things you shouldn’t
This includes your nails or pen lids. It’s time to stop, for the sake of your teeth and your hygiene!
Eating small, hard foods
Things like nuts and seeds are good for you but can get lodged in your teeth. Popcorn kernels are another cause!
Allergies and sinus problems could be causing undue pressure on one or more teeth, resulting in the feeling of tenderness and sensitivity.
Grinding or clenching
If you grind your teeth in the night, the impact on your teeth can mean sensitivity or throbbing in the area. You might not notice if you grind or clench as it typically happens in your sleep, but a partner may have. Your dentist can also check for signs of wear on your tooth surfaces.
Falls, knocks, blows and sporting injuries can place undue pressure on your teeth. Always wear a mouth guard if you play contact sports and seek help from a dentist if you’ve been in an accident and your teeth don’t feel right afterwards.
Tooth sprain can come on suddenly, so it’s likely more to do with misalignment following a missing tooth or dental work than natural misalignment. This could be because a new crown or filling isn’t quite in the right place. Make sure you book a dental appointment to have any ‘high’ fillings corrected.
What are the consequences of a sprained tooth?
Tooth sprain isn’t especially serious and should heal itself within a few weeks so long as you try not to aggravate it by chewing or biting down on it.
However, if your STS is attributed to long-term issues like bite problems, it can have knock-on effects. For instance, you could develop temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which is often associated with grinding or misaligned teeth. It can cause headaches, jaw pain, popping and clicking of the jaw and bite issues. Find out more in our blog post on TMJ disorder.
If your sprained tooth hasn’t improved within a few weeks, or you’re worried it’s a cavity, book your Notting Hill dental appointment at Number 18 Dental today and let us get your mouth back to normal for you.