People with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) have widespread tender points in ways no one else can really grasp. Though it will not kill you today or tomorrow, you will have chronic pain that seems unending. Interestingly, many patients also complain about symptoms of pain or other discomforts in the orofacial region (the head and neck). Does this mean that fibromyalgia can cause tooth pain?
You may feel tooth pain in many ways. It may be constant – or ‘come and go’, depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the problem!
Typically, drinking and eating will make the pain worse, especially if what you drink or eat is too hot or too cold. Also, it often worsens at night when you’re laying down for hours.
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Sometimes it strikes suddenly or feels so painful (sharp). Other times, it occurs gradually but may last for weeks or months. You may find it difficult to determine whether the true pain is located in your lower or upper teeth. Even the pain may feel like it’s arising from the ear or elsewhere in the head, depending on the underlying cause. And the area of the jaw near to the affected tooth may become tender or more sensitive to touch.
There are a number of factors and conditions that can lead to tooth pain. But it’s usually caused by inflammation of dental pulp. Dental pulp hosts many blood vessels and sensitive nerves. It is the innermost layer of your tooth. When it gets inflamed, this can be painful.
Dental pulp inflammation
Dental pulp can get inflamed with several ways, but the most common one is tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth can thrive on what you eat especially such as sugar and starches. They can cause sticky-plagues on the surface of the teeth. Over time, the plaque can cause damage to enamel (the outer, white coating of the tooth) which may result in a cavity. Sometimes tooth decay can also cause a cavity by affecting dentin, the inner layer of the tooth.
Other conditions that can make your dental pulp become inflamed:
- Broken or loose fillings.
- A crack in the tooth. It is usually very small (invisible with naked eyes).
- Receding gums, when the gums recede and expose more sensitive areas of the tooth root.
Other possible causes of tooth pain include: infected gums, abscessed tooth (a painful sensation caused by infection between the gum and tooth – or at the root of a tooth), a damaged /broken filling, grinding teeth or other bad repetitive motions.
The following conditions sometimes can also lead to pain similar to tooth pain even though without dental pulp inflammation:
- Mouth ulcers, such as an ulcer in the gum.
- Periodontal abscess, a condition in which you have a collection of pus in the gums (typically caused by bacterial infection).
- Swollen or soreness in the gums. For example when you’re expecting a new tooth growth that starts to come through.
- Temporomandibular joint, an injury affecting the joint between the skull and the jaw.
- Sinusitis, inflammation of sinuses.
- Teething, a discomfort that occurs when the teeth start to grow in babies.
Also called a muscular (myofascial) pain syndrome, fibromyalgia can result in specific tender areas and generalized muscle pain. The exact cause is unclear, though biochemical factors are often to blame. A variety of factors might work together to cause the disease – these include genetics, environmental factors (such as infections), and trauma events (car accident and stress for examples).
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What makes it more difficult to understand, there is usually a normal neurological exam even though the patient has multiple spots throughout the body, called tender points. These specific points are usually small (only about the size of a penny), but they can be very sensitive to palpation or painful when pressure is put on them.
In addition to specific tenderness areas, the disease often cause one or some of the following symptoms:
- Feeling tired (fatigue) that can strike anytime, including after waking from sleep in the morning. For a better understanding of dealing with fibromyalgia-related fatigue, see here!
- Difficulty sleeping and non-restorative sleep.
- Stiffness (particularly in the morning), typically widespread and diffuse. It may improve as the day goes on. Sometimes it occurs with tingling or numbness in feet or/and hands.
- Other symptoms may include headaches and depression.
How about tooth pain?
According to one study – people with fibromyalgia syndrome have the following orofacial problems ‘in higher frequency’ compared to general population: