Dark-haired man sitting on a sofa holding his cheek in pain

Exposed Nerve in a Tooth: What You Should Know

Dark-haired man sitting on a sofa holding his cheek in pain

A toothache is an undeniably unpleasant experience that can disrupt your day—even multiple days. Among the various causes of dental pain, an exposed nerve in a tooth stands out as an unrelenting tormentor.

Fortunately, if you’re searching for “exposed nerve in the tooth,” we can provide you with information to help you determine if this could be the problem and what steps you should take.

We want to note that Dr. Joe Nguyen and the rest of our team are here to help, so make sure to call if you have a persistent toothache, whether it’s from an exposed nerve root or not.

Understanding dental anatomy

Comprehending the seriousness of an exposed nerve in a tooth begins with having a grasp of dental anatomy.

First and foremost, your teeth consist of different layers, each serving a distinct purpose. The outermost layer is the enamel — a protective shell shielding the underlying layers.

The dentin lies beneath the enamel; this layer is a dense substance that forms the bulk of the tooth.

Deep within the dentin is the dental pulp, a sensitive tissue containing blood vessels and nerves.

The role of dental nerves

Dental nerves play a vital role in tooth functionality, transmitting sensory information to the brain. Decay, injury, or a crack can damage those protective layers, possibly exposing the dental pulp and its nerves.

Once exposed, those roots become susceptible to external stimuli, causing intense pain and sensitivity.

The agony of an exposed nerve in a tooth

Unfortunately, when an exposed tooth nerve comes into contact with hot or cold substances, sugary foods, or even air, it may trigger excruciating pain.

This pain is often described as sharp, shooting, or throbbing and can radiate to the surrounding areas of the face, jaw, and head.

Everyday activities such as chewing, speaking, or drinking become daunting, with each movement triggering waves of agony.

The persistent discomfort can significantly impact your quality of life, making it difficult to focus on work, maintain a balanced diet, or enjoy social interactions.

Seeking relief

The first step in finding relief from the discomfort of an exposed nerve in a tooth is to visit our dentist. Our dental professional will conduct a thorough examination, including dental X-rays, to assess the extent of the damage and determine if it is indeed an exposed nerve root.

Based on the diagnosis, Dr. Joe Nguyen may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

Dental fillings

If the nerve exposure is minimal and the tooth decay is only superficial, our dentist may recommend a dental filling.

During this procedure, we’ll remove the decayed portion of the tooth, clean the area thoroughly, and fill it with a suitable material, such as composite resin or amalgam. This process seals the tooth, protecting the exposed nerve and restoring function.

Root canal therapy

When the dental nerve is significantly damaged or infected, our dentist may recommend root canal therapy. The procedure begins with us removing the infected pulp. We’ll then clean the root canals and seal them with a biocompatible material known as Gutta-percha.

Although often associated with discomfort, modern techniques, and anesthesia ensure the procedure is relatively painless. Root canal therapy effectively saves the tooth and eliminates the agony caused by an exposed nerve.

Dental crowns

In cases where the tooth structure is severely compromised, our dentist may suggest a dental crown.

A crown is a custom-made cap that covers the entire tooth, providing strength and protection and restoring its appearance.

Encasing the tooth shields the exposed nerve and prevents further pain and sensitivity.

Preventing future dental pain

Prevention is undoubtedly better than enduring the anguish of an exposed nerve in a tooth. For instance, practicing good oral hygiene by brushing twice daily, flossing regularly, and visiting the dentist for routine checkups can help maintain dental health.

You should also avoid excessive sugar consumption, refrain from biting hard objects, and wear a mouthguard during sports activities to minimize the risk of dental trauma and subsequent nerve exposure.

Luckily, with proper oral hygiene practices and preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of encountering such dental emergencies.

Gaining knowledge about the nerve root, its purpose, and signs of a problem will help you recognize if there’s an issue and take steps to find relief.

Remember, a healthy smile begins with a pain-free mouth, and by taking care of your teeth, you can preserve their beauty and functionality for years to come! And Dr. Joe Nguyen can be part of that, assisting if you have signs of nerve root exposure!



At our Poway, CA, dentist office, we welcome the surrounding areas of Santee, Lakeside, Ramona, Bostonia, Escondido, El Cajon, La Mesa, and Solana Beach. 

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