What is causing my toothache?

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Infection, injury to the tooth root, tooth decay, and shifting implants can cause toothaches. Actually, we often hear patients describe different types of oral pain as ‘toothaches’ too. If your tooth (or gums) are hurting, take a deep breath. Before you find out how to stop your tooth pain fast, you need to find out what’s causing it.


What is causing your toothache?

    • Infection

    • Chipped or loosened tooth

    • Cracked tooth or cavity

    • Problem with your implant or denture

Throbbing tooth pain and other types of pain to make you panic

What does your toothache feel like? Is it constant hypersensitivity or is it throbbing tooth pain? Your dentist will ask you to describe your pain before they can find out what is causing your tooth pain. Do any of these describe your toothache?

    • Throbbing tooth pain
    • Pulsating dull ache
    • Pain when you bite
    • Pain or tingling when eating something sweet
    • Oversensitive or hypersensitive teeth
    • Tender gums
    • Pain when moving the jaw (referred pain)


Toothaches love company. Watch out for toothache companions, such as:

    • Swelling in the mouth or gums
    • Red or inflamed spot near tooth root
    • Discolouration in the gums
    • Foul taste in the mouth
    • Bad breath
    • Pus or secretion from near the pain centre
    • Fever


What is causing your toothache?

Now that we’ve looked at how toothaches commonly manifest, let’s understand five common causes of toothaches.


Your toothache may have come on suddenly, but the reason behind the toothache can take days and months to develop.


1. Chipped/broken tooth

Bite down with a lot of force on something really hard and you will likely fracture your tooth. Even a fall or being hit on the mouth or jaw can cause your tooth to fracture. Even if the fracture doesn’t show itself immediately, the fracture can propagate over time.

Symptoms: Throbbing pain, pain when you bite down, inflammation, bleeding gums


2. Damaged or loose fillings/crowns

Fillings and crowns can be damaged or dislodged because of a particularly hard bite if you grind or clench your teeth, or while trying to tear something tough. Crowns and fillings, essentially, restore the shape of the tooth, fill in any breaks and protect it from decay. If you lose or damage one, visit your dentist immediately.

Symptoms: Inflammation and bleeding, constant dull pain, pain or tingling while eating or drinking


3. Tooth erupting/Wisdom teeth

When children get new teeth and transition, it’s a great sign of growing up. We know it can be painful, but everyone goes through it. Sooner the better we say! Visit your pediatric dentist to make sure teeth are not erupting into other teeth and there is nothing to be concerned about.

For adults, wisdom teeth can be a bit more bothersome. Too often impacted wisdom teeth don’t have enough room to grow and can become obstructed by molars. It’s why so many people choose to have their wisdom teeth removed before they become a hindrance.

Symptoms: Inflamed and red gums, bleeding, pain in the jaw, pain while chewing


4. Gum infection

Gum infections and gingivitis if left unchecked can have serious consequences, including ill health that extends that beyond the mouth. Infections can be caused due to an unhealthy diet, hormonal imbalance, a change in the pH factor of your mouth, and medical treatments. Contamination around the tooth root, implants and crowns can also cause bacterial build-up and infection.

Symptoms: Bad breath, bleeding, sensitive gums, loose teeth, abscess in tooth, fever, throbbing or dull tooth pain


5. Tooth decay and abscesses

Decay is one of the most common causes of toothaches. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria on the tooth destroy the enamel, the hard outer shell of the tooth. Tooth decay can also lead to holes and cavities. An abscess in the tooth is simply that – a hole. It can be caused due to tooth decay or an infection. In both cases, an immediate visit to the dentist is a must.

Symptoms: Plaque deposits, yellowing teeth, hypersensitivity, pain while chewing, pain when drinking hot or cold liquids


How to stop tooth pain fast!

Tooth pain is your body’s way of saying “I need to see a dentist”. Don’t ignore tooth pains! If the pain goes away, the underlying problem almost certainly will not. Nevertheless, here are a few ways you can stop pain fast.

      • Rise your mouth with warm water with salt in it
      • Apply an ice pack or cold compress to your jaw or cheek
      • Floss gently to dislodge food that may be stuck between your teeth
      • Take over the counter pain medication


If your pain lasts longer than a day, you continue to feel pain while chewing or if swelling and redness in your mouth seem to be getting worse, you need to see a dentist immediately. Call Dawson Dental’s emergency number 1-855-406-2742 immediately. We have over 25 dentist’s offices across Ontario, including dentists in Brampton, dental office in Cambridge, and Oshawa dentists.