Toothaches can be a minor tinge letting you know that something is wrong or they can cause crippling pain… that’s why we wanted to share some common toothache causes and their symptoms.

What is a toothache? Pain or inflammation in or around the tooth, often caused by tooth decay or infection.

What are common toothache causes?

A toothache can have causes that aren’t due to underlying disease. Examples may include flossing, biting into something hard, getting something stuck in between the teeth, or braces. In children, it’s a regular part of the developmental process.

Common Toothache Causes:

  • Sensitive Teeth
  • Tooth decay
  • Inflammation of tooth pulp
  • Tooth fracture
  • Broken tooth
  • Abscessed tooth
  • Infected gums or gum disease
  • Damaged filling
  • Impacted tooth
  • Repetitive motions, such as chewing gum or grinding teeth
  • Non-dental related issues, such as sinus congestion or infection

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Common Symptoms of a Toothache:

  • Tooth pain that may be sharp, throbbing, or constant
  • Tooth pain while chewing
  • In some people, pain results only when pressure is applied to the tooth
  • Foul-tasting drainage from the infected tooth
  • Hot or cold sensitivity
  • Swelling around the tooth or swelling in your jaw
  • Bleeding or discharge from around a tooth or gums
  • Fever or headache
  • Injury or trauma to the area

When Should I See a Dentist About a Toothache?

We recommend seeing your dentist as soon as possible about your toothache if:

  • Your toothache is severe
  • You have consistent tooth pain that lasts longer than 1 or 2 days
  • Inflammation increases
  • Swelling occurs around your jaw or face
  • Redness occurs around the gums or your gums are bleeding
  • You have a fever, earache
  • If you notice that a tooth is broken, cracked or chipped
  • You experience pain upon opening your mouth wide
  • Dull, persistent pain can be a sign of something that will get worse if not treated
  • You’ve suffered a recent trauma to your face or mouth

How do I stop my tooth from throbbing?

Before you’re able to get into your dentist’s office, try these self-care tips for some temporary relief:
  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water
  • Gently floss to remove built up plaque or food between teeth
  • Apply a cold compress to your cheek or jaw
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication, like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and aspirin can relieve minor pain
  • Numbing pastes or gels (benzocaine) can help to dull the pain

What Happens When I Go to the Dentist for a Toothache?

First, your dentist will conduct a dental exam. He or she will ask you questions about the pain, such as:

  • when the pain started
  • where the pain is located
  • how severe it is
  • what makes the pain worse and what makes it better
  • does the pain wake you up in the middle of the night

Your dentist will examine:

  • your mouth, teeth and gums
  • jaws, tongue and throat
  • sinuses, ears, nose, and neck

X-rays may be taken as well as other tests, depending on what your dentist suspects is causing your toothache.

What Treatments Are Available for a Toothache?

Treatment for a toothache depends on the cause or source of pain. If a cavity is causing the toothache, your dentist will remove the decay, fill the cavity or possibly extract the tooth, but only if there is no way to save the tooth.

A root canal may be necessary if the cause of the toothache is from an infection of the tooth’s nerve. Bacteria that have worked their way into the inner areas of the tooth cause that type of infection. An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is fever or swelling in the jaw to get rid of the infection.

Related Articles:

Everything You Want to Know about Root Canal Treatment 

“Are You going to pull my tooth?” | When is Tooth Extraction Necessary?

How Can Toothaches Be Prevented?

Tooth decay causes most toothaches, so following a good oral hygiene routine can prevent most toothaches.

Good oral hygiene practices consist of:

  • brushing teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste
  • flossing daily
  • rinsing once or twice each day with an antiseptic mouthwash
  • seeing your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning and exam

Gently brushing your teeth with a soft bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste will remove the plaque and bacteria are toothache causes to begin with. In addition to these practices, ask your dentist about fluoride treatments and sealant applications and make healthy food, snack and beverage choices that are low in sugar.

Related Articles:

Why do I need to have a Dental Exam Every 6 Months?

Why Dental Sealants for Kids can Protect Their Smiles


Local dentist, Travis A. Roberts and his experienced, friendly team at Adams Dental Group offer affordable family dentistry and gentle dental care in the Kansas City, KS area. We have two locations that are conveniently located and offer appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At Adams Dental Group, we provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to specialty procedures, including dental implants, dentures, endodontic or root canal treatment, teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at our West location (913) 296-8030 to schedule an appointment.

April 14th, 2020

Posted In: Emergency Dental Care

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