Your teeth are such a small part of your body, but they can cause major pain. If you've ever had a toothache, you know how distracting and debilitating it can be. Tooth pain almost always has an underlying cause, and discovering that cause is the first step to feeling better. Here are three possible reasons your tooth might be hurting:

1. Tooth sensitivity

If you have pain or sensitivity when you bite into ice cream or drink cold beverages, it could mean that you simply have sensitive teeth. Sensitivity to cold can also be caused by prior fillings, since the underlying nerve is closer to the surface after you have a cavity drilled. Try brushing with a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. According to Ask the Dentist, these toothpastes contain potassium nitrate which will lower your sensitivity by inhibiting the signal sent to your tooth's nerve so you can enjoy cold foods without discomfort.

2. Cavity

A cavity is a small hole in your tooth which is caused by built-up plaque. They can cause pain when you chew or eat certain sugary foods. If you suspect you have a cavity, make an appointment with your dentist. They will visually inspect your tooth and take an x-ray of your teeth to confirm the diagnosis. It's best to seek treatment for a cavity as soon as possible, since cavities can worsen over time if they're not removed.

3. Abscessed tooth

An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth. In this case, bacteria has gotten through the enamel and dentin of your tooth to infect the nerve below. If your tooth is sensitive to both cold and heat, that's a sign you have an abscessed tooth. You will also feel intense pain that doesn't get better when you take over-the-counter pain medications. If you have an abscessed tooth, you will need to have a root canal. Before performing the root canal, your dentist may put you on antibiotics to clear up the infection; otherwise it would be too painful to have the procedure performed on an active infection.

If you notice tooth pain, make an appointment with your dentist immediately. Unlike other parts of your body that can heal themselves over time, tooth pain doesn't get better on its own. It's important that you seek dental care immediately before your condition worsens. If you don't currently have a primary dentist, call your local dental clinic to find a dentist who can perform a thorough exam.