Dr. Vidhi Vatsala

Last Modified: Mar 19, 2023


Table of Contents

  • 01.Dental reasons for Toothache
  • 02.Some non-dental reasons for Toothache
  • 03.When to seek dental attention for Tooth Pain?

Toothache occurs in and around the teeth and jaw, often caused by tooth decay. It can in various ways, including intermittent or constant pain that worsens while eating or drinking hot or cold items. The pain can range from mild to severe, and it may start suddenly and feel sharp. A toothache may worsen at night, especially while lying down. A lost filling or broken tooth can also lead to toothache. It can be challenging to determine which tooth is causing the pain, and sometimes, it can feel like the pain is coming from the ear or sinuses. Additionally, the area surrounding the infected tooth may feel sore and tender to the touch. Periodontal disease, a bacterial infection that affects the teeth’s supportive structures, can also cause dull pain.

Dental reasons for Toothache

Tooth decay
The most common cause of toothache is tooth decay, which can happen to anyone. Tooth decay becomes painful when it reaches the inner layer of the tooth called the dentin, causing sensitivity and the development of a cavity. If the pain becomes severe and sharp, it may indicate that the decay has reached the centre of the tooth, which can be extremely uncomfortable and interfere with daily life. These issues require prompt attention as they can lead to more significant dental problems.

Tooth Abscess
If tooth decay progresses to the point where it affects the root underneath the visible tooth, there is a high likelihood that the root and surrounding tissue are infected. This can lead to a throbbing pain that spreads widely, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact tooth causing the discomfort. This is a severe problem that requires immediate professional attention since it can result in the loss of bone and tissue, which can be extremely unpleasant.

Gum disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This is a condition that causes dull pain in the mouth, along with red and bleeding gums, and sometimes tooth pain. It typically results from inflammation of the gums and oral bone. If left untreated, the disease can cause damage or loss of teeth, gums, and bones. In such cases, surgical intervention may be necessary to remove the infection from the mouth.

Fractured Tooth
Teeth can sustain cracks due to various causes such as falls, sports injuries, or biting on hard or sticky foods. If a cracked tooth causes pain, it means that the crack has reached the middle of the tooth where the nerve endings are, leading to intense discomfort.

Sensitivity to temperature
Sharp tooth pain that occurs immediately after consuming hot or cold food or drinks is often associated with tooth sensitivity. This sensitivity is caused by the wearing down of tooth enamel, which exposes the underlying dentin layer that contains the tooth’s nerves. Teeth whitening treatments can also cause temporary tooth sensitivity.

Compromised Dental Fillings or Sealants
Fillings are commonly used to cover deep pits, grooves, and fractures in teeth, thereby protecting vulnerable parts of the tooth. When a filling or sealant is damaged or cracked, it can allow food particles and bacteria to enter the tooth, leading to infection and tooth decay.
As the decay progresses, it can cause inflammation and irritation of the tooth nerve, resulting in toothache or tooth pain.

Wisdom Teeth Complications
Impacted wisdom teeth can cause toothache by putting pressure on surrounding teeth, leading to inflammation and pain. Additionally, impacted wisdom teeth can create a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to infections and gum disease, which can cause toothache and discomfort.

Incorrect use of a toothbrush or dental floss
Improper brushing or flossing can lead to the buildup of plaque and tartar on teeth, which can irritate and inflame the gums. This can eventually result in gum disease, which can cause tooth pain and sensitivity.

Some non-dental reasons for Toothache

Tooth pain can be caused by conditions other than those related to dental problems.

Some examples of such conditions are:

  • Sinus Problems
  • Neurological Causes
  • TMJ (joint pain of the jaw)
  • Cluster Headaches
  • Heart Attack and Lung Disease

When to seek dental attention for Tooth Pain?

If you’ve been experiencing a toothache for more than 12 hours and you haven’t had any recent dental procedures, it’s essential to visit your dentist. Pain is a signal that our body sends us to indicate that something is not right. Tooth decay may not cause pain until it reaches the tooth’s nerve. The reasons for toothache can vary from an infected nerve inside the tooth, cracked tooth, gum infection, or in some cases, it could even be a symptom of a heart attack. Therefore, it’s crucial not to ignore any signs of tooth pain and seek professional help as soon as possible.



Dr. Vidhi Vatsala

Mar 19, 2023