What would make someone's teeth/gums constantly ache?
December 8, 2016 9:02 AM   Subscribe

I have gum recession, pretty clearly - which is weird! I use a soft tooth brush and take it easy brushing. It's at the point that I can't drink coffee or eat like tomatoes. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

It was going on for a couple years - relatedly, I completely delayed on getting my wisdom teeth out. It actually really hurt before and after the surgery. The dentist explained that happens due to the arch of the teeth being pushed back by the erupting teeth and inflaming the rest of the gums. Of course he said minor infections can cause that kind of pain. Which they were, it turned out. And antibiotics addressed that temporarily... but it was hurting for a long time before and now it still hurts pretty much all the time.

Maybe I just have a shitty diet that's killing my gums?

Or like could there be an overall mouth architecture reason for this?

Could this be a-low level infection? As in worth trying another round of antibiotics?

What could this be? Would love to hear any suggestions!
posted by benadryl to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You should get a periodontal exam from a periodontist.
posted by thelonius at 9:05 AM on December 8, 2016 [14 favorites]

Yeah, this is not normal. And recession of gums on teeth far away from the wisdom teeth (... right?) should not be due to removal of the wisdom teeth.

See a dentist right away, whether directly to a periodontist or to your "regular" dentist to get a recommendation and referral.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:09 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

My dentist said that my gum recession was probably due to nighttime tooth grinding (bruxism). This might also explain the pain. The answer is a bite guard.
posted by H21 at 9:18 AM on December 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yes, I agree with seeing your dentist. I would also recommend seeing your doctor, and getting an overall physical while explaining this symptom to them. I was recently amazed to discover that I have some vitamin deficiencies, caught by my gp at my annual physical, and now that I am on treatment, a whole host of symptoms I have had over the years just suddenly cleared up. (Not saying that that is what you have, just that it could be a larger medical issue that needs to be looked into).
posted by nanook at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Most likely periodontal disease but teeth grinding can do this. I'm a stress tooth grinder. At least that's what my dentist said to me.

Go see a dentist to rule out any more serious cause then look into a mouth guard. I use a cheap one from the drug store (I had to try a few to find one I wouldn't spit out in my sleep or make me feel like I was choking) but you can get fancy ones from the dentist all sculpted to fit too.
posted by wwax at 9:25 AM on December 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had some pretty serious gum recession and had a periodontist fix it, on my dentist's advice. Man, that was awesome. No longer am I self conscious about my smile.

For me, it was pretty clearly the result of orthodontia, which moved my teeth around in a way that caused the root of a few teeth to lean toward the gums, which then inhibited the blood flow to those tiny little blood vessels. The fact that I was a smoker also contributed. (I don't smoke now)

Now, I still have very sensitive teeth (not much in the teeth that had gum recession). My dentist tells me that this is not uncommon as one ages. Thanks, Doctor, I know you're younger than me but fuck off LOL j/k Anyway, he had a treatment that wasn't covered by my dental insurance but it turns out that you can buy these little strips at the drugstore that are not wholly dissimilar from the ones you use to whiten your teeth, only these are for sensitive teeth. I don't even have to use them very often, really only once or twice a year.

Before I found these, my teeth would ache if I smiled broadly in cold weather. That sucked.

Good luck. Yeah, see your dentist but those strips are pretty great. Also, I don't grind, but I do chew lightly, just enough to fuck up the inside of my cheeks.
posted by janey47 at 9:34 AM on December 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

My gums got a lot better after I figured out I was allergic to a common ingredient in many toothpastes: propylene glycol. A _lot_ better. Less bleeding, less sensitivity, etc.
posted by amtho at 9:46 AM on December 8, 2016

see a periodontist for better info on what's going on. use an non-sls/sensitive teeth toothpaste like biotene. find out if you are anemic. don't brush too hard.

a lot of times gum/tooth issues can be genetic so the most you can do is take care of what you can without expecting much improvement.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:01 AM on December 8, 2016

Did you have braces as a child? My dentist said gum recession is almost always down to either nighttime teeth grinding, or braces.
posted by anderjen at 10:20 AM on December 8, 2016

You don't mention flossing at all. When's the last time you had a below-the-gumline deep cleaning, as in the kind that sometimes requires anesthetic?
posted by rhizome at 12:05 PM on December 8, 2016

When I had inflamed gums then exacerbated more by pregnancy, a deep below the gumline cleaning fixed it up.
posted by Jubey at 1:49 PM on December 8, 2016

How often do you get a cleaning done? Various health conditions can lead to gum disease, so seeing your GP in addition to at minimum your dentist (and possibly a periodontist) should be on the agenda. And get into a very regular schedule for dental cleanings with the occasional scaling. I have diabetes and I have to go every three months for a cleaning. It has kept any lingering gum disease completely under control. My goal is to keep all of my teeth in my head until I die of old age, so I make the time/absorb the expense.
posted by clone boulevard at 2:12 PM on December 8, 2016

Really stay on schedule with your cleanings, that really helps me. My gums started receding about 5 years ago, and the pain was bad enough some days that I couldn't talk. It's tapered off now, thanks to cleanings and getting a sonicare brush. Your gums are probably inflamed and angry, and brushing harder or softer won't help. Also the parts of your teeth that were under your gumline are angry that someone stole their snuggie, but that will get better with time.

Also, I still have 'phantom' teething pains where my wisdom teeth were (now extracted), and because IANYD I will tell you that eating firmer gummy candies, chewing them where your wisdom teeth were, feels very nice.
posted by Drosera at 3:34 PM on December 8, 2016

Caffeine makes my teeth hurt. I have no idea why. More than one cup and they ache all day.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 3:48 PM on December 8, 2016

I used to have gums that were sore a lot and it just got worse over the years, went to a periodontist and he had such a ridiculous treatment plan (using toothpicks by breaking them in half with some other small thingies for 30 min per day forever) that I didn't go back. After a few more dentists and just getting deep cleanings as often as possible to try stop it getting worse I got a waterpik and it has been great! My teeth are very small, close together and skew so flossing was a struggle (actually cut up my gums doing it in some places), but I use the waterpik each night before bed now and my gums don't hurt at all anymore plus that dentist chart of how deep pockets are looks better each time. Some people say waterpiks eventually cause you to lose your teeth etc but between sore gums all the time and maybe losing teeth earlier I pick the latter. My waterpik is the Waterpik brand one from amazon.
posted by meepmeow at 3:56 PM on December 8, 2016

Not to back-and-forth this, but I've gone over this with multiple dental students (I use the dental school) if your gums are bleeding when you floss it's actually a sign that you need to floss more often. They've also told me that you can't floss "too hard," you aren't going to cut your teeth out or rip gums out or anything, and lastly, that if they had to choose between brushing and flossing, flossing has the greater benefits. Floss!
posted by rhizome at 5:40 PM on December 8, 2016

To elaborate on what a periodontist can do...

My dentist sent me to one recently, having noticed a particular spot where the gap between tooth and gum was abnormally deep. The periodontist had a little tool to measure the depth of "looseness" on every tooth, on both the inner and outer sides of the tooth/gum line, calling out the numbers while an assistant recorded same. That provided the base line. Next, using a local anesthetic, she "deep cleaned" (aka root planing) one side of my mouth, then two weeks later, the other side. (Thirty minutes each time, total cost: $1200.)

As she explained about that spot the dentist noticed, the gap has allowed food particles to lodge too deep for flossing to reach, and it became infected. The constant low-grade infection began to eat away at the bone there, which would lead to tooth loss if not arrested. While the deep cleaning reduced the gaps everywhere, it was not enough to correct this one spot fully, so in January I'm having laser surgery to close it. (Again, 30 minutes, and again, $1200.)

While I'm a dedicated flosser and brusher, she recommended trying a Waterpik. Initially, as a little test, I brushed and flossed and then used the Waterpik. It dislodged food particles that the first two missed, so I was sold.

Good luck!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:28 AM on December 9, 2016

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