Have you ever felt your teeth tingling in a weird way? Or maybe your tooth feels weird, no pain is really there, but you can tell something is “off” in that area? You might even say that “my gums feel weird but my tooth seems fine.”
What is it that causes these hard-to-pinpoint symptoms in teeth? And most importantly, do you need to see a dentist about it?
Your teeth have different networks of nerves feeding them. Some are connected, others are not. And then there are the surrounding tissues like your gums, lips, cheeks, and sinuses that lay close to those nerve tissues. Anytime something seems “off” or “weird” it can be hard to tell if it’s your teeth or something else. Referred pain or tooth sensitivity may make your teeth feel weird when it’s actually an adjacent area causing the stimulus to your brain.
Did you recently get a new dental filling or crown? Are you wearing a temporary restoration while the permanent one is being made at the lab? It could be that your bite is slightly off. The tiny changes in your occlusion (biting relationship) can apply weird pressure points that make specific teeth feel weird or tingling in the gums around them. Your dentist can adjust your occlusion, so be sure to let them know if your bite feels irregular once all of that numbing medication finally wears off.
Sometimes traumatic injuries, TMJ disorder, wisdom teeth, shifting teeth, or even gum disease can change the way our teeth fit together when we bite down. This delicate biting pattern (occlusion) requires a particular relationship between the upper and lower teeth to chew effectively. When our bite is thrown off for some reason, it can strain our teeth and make them feel weird or even sore.
Gum disease can cause your gum tissues to feel itchy, tingly, or weird around your teeth. The earliest symptoms include redness or swelling along the outermost edges of your gums, closest to your teeth. But left untreated, gingivitis will eventually evolve into full-blown periodontal disease. Aggressive gum disease can make teeth feel sore to the touch, mobile when pressure is applied, or feel weird when you floss or brush your teeth. Chronic halitosis(bad breath), tartar buildup, and bleeding are common. Healthy gums shouldn’t ever bleed, so be sure to talk to your dentist if you’re flossing every day but the bleeding doesn’t get any better.
Your lips aren’t the only place you can get cold sores in your mouth. If you have an ulcer or sore starting to pop up, it may cause your gums to feel funny. A tingling sensation is also common! Depending on what type of flare-up you’re having, some dentists offer laser cold sore treatment if you see them ASAP after tingling symptoms begin. They can even prescribe medication for you to keep at home if you’re prone to frequent flare-ups.
Changes in your oral health routine can make your teeth and gums feel weird. One example is using teeth whitening toothpaste, which may make teeth start to tingle after several days. Or if you have a new toothpaste and your gums are starting to feel weird, you might be allergic to one of the ingredients. It may take a process of elimination to figure out what it is. Remember that some people can develop sensitivity or allergic reactions to products over time, so this can still happen if you’ve used those items in the past. If your gums are burning, make sure you avoid any products that contain alcohol.
Your upper tooth roots lay closely next to your nasal sinuses. It’s extremely common to hear of people complaining of weird feelings in their teeth or actual toothaches when nothing is wrong with their teeth at all. In reality, it’s the inflammation of their sinus cavity placing pressure against the roots of their teeth. This scenario can happen if you experience seasonal allergies, feel stuffy, or have a full-blown sinus infection. If you nod your head up and down or take a little jump and feel the pressure hurt worse in your teeth, there’s a good chance that your sinuses are to blame.
Bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding) presses intense amounts of strain to both your teeth and the tiny ligaments that hold them into place. Those ligaments in your gums can become sore or almost bruised to an extent. The strain—especially on a repeated basis—can make your teeth sore to bite on or feel tingly to the touch. You might also see some symptoms of gum recession and visible tooth roots because of the trauma to your tissues.
It’s completely normal for teeth to move out of alignment. Tooth shifting can be caused by relapse after orthodontic treatment (from not wearing your retainer), tooth loss, or even your erupting wisdom teeth pushing at the back of your mouth. Muscle movements in your tongue and lips can also gradually cause teeth to tilt or lean. When those changes happen, it alters the way your teeth bite together. One or two of them may start to take on more biting pressure than normal, causing them to feel weird or tingly after you’ve been chewing a meal.
Tooth whitening agents can stimulate the tiny nerves in the porous “tubules” of your tooth surfaces. This can make teeth feel tingly when you’re breathing, drinking, or eating. The sensation may come on suddenly or be more obvious during temperature changes. If you’re whitening your teeth at home, consider using sensitivity toothpaste each day and skipping days between whitening applications. Always have your dentist examine your teeth before using whitening products, as bleaching agents can be harmful in areas of active tooth decay or gum disease.
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why do my gums feel weird” or telling your dentist your teeth are tingling, you’re not alone. If a tooth feels weird (no pain symptoms) or your gums seem like something is going on, be sure to pay attention. Your body and mouth are ultra-sensitive, so chances are you’re picking up on symptoms of something before major issues have a chance to come into play. Being able to recognize those concerns will help you treat the issue at home or know whether you need to call your dentist or not.
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