Most people only think about how the hard outer surface of their teeth can be damaged, but the internal parts of each tooth can also suffer from serious issues, including nerve damage. This can occur when the pulp inside your tooth is either exposed or infected. The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels, and damaged nerves can result in severe pain and require emergency treatment. 

Even if you don't experience any discomfort, damaged nerves may lead to anything from a root canal to an extraction, especially when left untreated. As such, it's well worth learning some of the most common signs of nerve damage so you can seek assistance without delay.

Here are just four.

1. Cracks or Chips

Any damage to the outer surface of a tooth can also lead to internal damage. After all, one of the outer surface's main jobs is protecting the more sensitive nerves and blood vessels. If one of your teeth is ever cracked, chipped or otherwise broken, it can expose the nerves and lead to damage. In some cases, it will be obvious when a tooth is cracked or chipped. In other cases, you may only be able to tell something is wrong by running your tongue over the surface or looking in the mirror.

2. Luxation

A tooth that has been partially dislodged is known as a luxated tooth. It can often get better on its own, but the movement of a luxated tooth can sometimes damage the nerve or leave it exposed to other forms of damage. That's one reason it's important to see a dentist as soon as possible when a tooth is loosened due to physical trauma.

3. Sensitivity

Nerve damage can cause two main forms of sensitivity. When the nerves of a single tooth have been damaged, the sensitivity will tend to stick to that area. However, sensitivity can also affect several teeth in the same area — this is more common when serious cracks or dislocations have occurred. Hot and cold food or drink is especially likely to cause sensitivity since the nerves of your teeth may be exposed.

4. Swelling

Swelling will often develop around the affected tooth when nerves are damaged. This will usually be associated with a darkening of the gum's natural pink or light red colour. You may also experience gum boils. These are often mistaken for more generalized swelling, but they are really a type of abscess that look and feel like a pimple on your gums.  

Find out more about emergency dentistry.