Tooth decay affects many people and can cause a lot of pain. When you feel pain in your face, especially around the jaw area, it can sometimes be caused by the effects of extreme tooth decay.
Tooth decay, also known as cavities, has a number of causes as people have many different forms of bacteria that live in their mouths. People with diets high in carbohydrates and sugars (which combine with saliva in the mouth to form plaque, which eats away at the teeth) and people who do not have access to fluoridated water are at the highest risk for tooth decay. Bacteria eat away at the enamel of the tooth and kill the cells below. This causes the tooth to appear black.
Teeth are made up of an outer layer of enamel, and directly underneath that is hard dentine, which makes up the majority of the tooth. Within the dentine is a pulpy substance that contains a nerve. If a tooth decays too much it can wear through the dentine. If the pulp and the nerve are exposed or are behind only a thin layer of dentine then the tooth may become very painful.
Neuralgia is a term used to describe sharp pain that may feel as though it is shooting across a nerve or a group of nerves. This pain is caused by irritation to the nerve, which occurs when a nerve in a tooth is exposed. The trigeminal nerve is connected to the nerves in the teeth. This means that a rotten tooth may cause neuralgia to shoot across the cheek, lips, gums or chin of the side of the face with the rotten tooth.
Antiseizure drugs such as carbamazepine, gabapentin, lamotrigine and phenytoin, can be used to combat the pain of neuralgia. You may need to consult a doctor and a dentist to find the best way to stop the neuralgia. The easiest solution may be to remove the tooth entirely to get rid of the irritated nerve.
The easiest way to prevent black teeth caused by tooth decay and the neuralgia caused by black teeth is to brush your teeth, gums and tongue twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste. You should also floss daily, avoid too much sugar and carbohydrates in your diet and have a routine check-up with your dentist every six months.
- University of Maryland: Neuralgia - All Information
- University of Maryland: Tooth Decay (Caries or Cavities)
- Milton S, Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine: Neuralgia
- The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia: Anatomy and Development of the Mouth and Teeth
- Elmhurst College: Sugar and Tooth Decay