Why Does My Tooth Ache?

Why Does My Tooth Ache?

July 02, 2019

Why Does My Tooth Ache?


For such a small part of our bodies, toothaches can do a lot of damage. Even one aching tooth can cause severe pain that makes it difficult to focus on day-to-day tasks. It’s important to identify why you are experiencing toothache pain so you can take the appropriate actions to eliminate it.

Toothache Symptoms

Before you start reading about what causes toothaches, you may want to make sure that’s what you’re dealing with. Some symptoms of toothaches resemble those of other issues such as sinus infections or shingles. Common toothache symptoms include:

  • Consistent throbbing pain around a tooth
  • Sharp pain when pressure is applied to a tooth
  • Headache
  • Swollen, sore gums
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Fever

Causes of Toothaches

If you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms above, explore these causes of toothaches to help you understand why your tooth aches.

Tooth Decay

According to the Mayo Clinic, tooth decay is the most common cause of toothaches for children and adults. From breakfast to dessert, the sugar and starches that you eat each day form plaque that only proper brushing and flossing can remove. If you aren’t practicing good dental hygiene, acids in the plaque bacteria can begin to eat through the outer layer of your teeth — the enamel.

As the decay gets closer to the inside of your teeth, it is more likely that you are going to experience painful toothaches. You may notice it hurts to eat sweet foods, or anything that is too hot or cold. You can’t always see tooth decay, but sometimes it creates a discolored spot on the tooth.

Eventually, tooth decay may lead to a dental cavity that would have to be repaired by a dental professional.

Gum Disease

If your dentist has harped on at you about flossing more often, you’ve probably been warned about gum disease. The early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis and the more severe form is called periodontitis. While healthy gums fit tightly around teeth and are a pale pink color, diseased gums appear swollen, receding, and are tender to the touch. They may also bleed when you brush or floss.

Gum disease can lead to consistent toothache pain and possibly even tooth removal. Fortunately, taking care of your gums regularly can reverse gingivitis in some cases.


Tooth fractures and chips are some of the most extreme toothache causes. Any fall, sports injury, or crack while eating certain foods can lead to immediate, excruciating tooth pain.

If left unattended, a broken tooth can also lead to other problems such as tooth decay. If you experience an injury that causes a painful toothache, consult with a dentist right away to prevent even further damage.

Orthodontic Adjustment

Unfortunately, a common side effect of straightening crooked teeth is toothache pain. Your orthodontist should warn you about the dull ache to come after tightening your braces, but let them know if the pain becomes unbearable or lasts more than a few days. The toothache that comes after an orthodontic adjustment shouldn’t be so bad that it distracts from your work or other daily activities.

Teeth Grinding

Most people who grind their teeth aren’t even aware that they’re doing it. The condition of teeth grinding is known as bruxism, and it usually occurs while a person is asleep or during times of extreme stress.

Overtime, bruxism can lead to terrible toothache pain and even contribute to tooth decay and chipped teeth. Grinding your teeth could also damage any existing fillings or sealants you have.

If your dental professional determines that you are grinding your teeth, they will likely recommend you wear a mouthguard while you sleep. This should prevent the symptoms of bruxism, including toothache.

Tooth Sensitivity

Some toothache pain occurs immediately after eating or drinking something hot or cold. This type of toothache typically means the tooth’s enamel has been damaged and the tooth’s nerve system is no longer protected.

Tooth sensitivity can be caused by tooth-whitening products containing peroxide, or by other toothache causes, such as bruxism.


Severe tooth decay may cause a pocket of pus in the gums known as an abscess. This is an infection that lead to terrible pain around the tooth, fever, and swelling. The infection has the potential to spread, and should be checked by a dentist as soon as possible.

Your tooth may be able to be saved if you receive prompt treatment, but tooth abscesses can result in tooth loss and can even be life-threatening.

Crooked Teeth

When teeth are misaligned, they tend to crowd each other and cause consistent toothache pain. Regardless of what caused your crooked teeth, they can be easily fixed to relieve any resulting discomfort.

Your options for fixing crooked teeth include braces and invisible aligners. While braces typically cost about $3,000 for those with insurance, Smilelove clear aligners cost less than $2,000. You can avoid regular orthodontist appointments, and nobody will even know you’re wearing them.

How to Prevent Toothaches

The best way to prevent toothaches is to practice good oral hygiene every day. It is recommended that everyone brush their teeth at least twice daily, floss at least once daily, and visit a dentist twice a year.

Getting a professional cleaning every six months can remove dangerous plaque and bacteria that leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Your dentist may also notice signs of bruxism or tooth sensitivity and work with you to correct them.

Toothache Treatment

In addition to unbearable pain, toothaches can lead to even worse, life-threatening issues. Don’t let fear of the dentist prevent you from seeking treatment and taking care of your oral health. The sooner you find out what is causing your toothache pain, the sooner you can experience relief and get back to doing the things you love.

If you can’t see a dental professional right away, here are some things to do at home for your toothache:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water
  • Gently floss to remove as much plaque as you can
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek on the side that aches

If you are having trouble breathing or swallowing, it may be time to head straight to the emergency room. A toothaches may begin as a minor issue, but it could quickly become serious.





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