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All you need to know about Toothache

Toothache is considered one of the most severe kinds of pain experienced by the human body. It can be sharp and shooting or a dull lingering kind of pain. The intensity of the pain depends on the severity of the underlying problem causing the toothache.

There are various kinds of issues associated with the teeth causing pain. Understanding the root cause of the pain helps your dentist formulate a treatment plan accordingly.

In the information given below, we will discuss the common causes and the treatment options available to alleviate the pain.

What is a toothache?

Any soreness or pain in the tooth or around the tooth due to the direct involvement of the teeth or their supporting structures is called a toothache. Toothache can be due to caries, direct trauma, or sensitivity.

Causes of toothache?

There are various causes of toothache like


The most common cause of tooth pain is dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay. If plaque accumulates on the teeth surfaces, the bacteria start feeding on the sugar and starches present in your mouth. It will produce acid that dissolves the teeth’ outermost layer called Enamel.

When the destruction reaches the second layer of dentin, you will start experiencing pain and sensitivity. When the decay is left untreated and reaches the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth, you will experience severe pain.

Tooth sensitivity

You will feel the unpleasant sensation due to the exposed dentin. This can be due to receding gums, worn-out fillings, caries, or cracked teeth. Tooth sensitivity is triggered due to hot and cold items or during vigorous tooth brushing.

Gum diseases

The early-stage involving only the gums is called gingivitis, and the later stage when the bone gets affected is known as periodontitis. The more advanced the stage is, the more severe the intensity of pain gets.

Cracked tooth

The crack in the tooth may be due to direct trauma, biting on some hard food items, or grinding your teeth very hard. You may experience severe pain while chewing and sensitivity to hot and cold food items.

The characteristic feature of a cracked tooth syndrome is the pain experienced on releasing the bite. When you bite on the involved tooth, you may not experience pain, but there is severe pain when you remove the bite.


Teeth grinding while asleep or during awake causes the attrition of teeth surfaces. Over some time, it leads to pain in the teeth and facial muscles.

Localized abscess

If caries reaches the innermost portion of the tooth called pulp and are still not treated, it can lead to pus formation around the tooth’s root area. This will lead to severe toothache and will need proper debridement and healing time.

Impacted tooth

Another common cause of pain in young adults aging 18yrs to 24 yrs when the wisdom tooth erupts in the mouth. If there is insufficient space available for the erupting tooth, it can lead to an impacted tooth. 

When to see a dentist?

It is always advisable to look for your dentist at the earliest to avoid complications. Early intervention is always the best for the prognosis of the tooth. It becomes mandatory to see your doctor if-

  • The pain is severe in intensity
  • There is associated fever
  • The face is swollen
  • The pain is not reduced with pain killers.

How does the dentist diagnose the cause?

To make a proper diagnosis and formulate a treatment plan accordingly, your dentist will do an extensive dental examination followed by a radiographic examination if necessary. It is essential to share your medical history with your doctor to make a customized plan for you.

In the dental examination, the dentist will look for any facial swelling and will examine the inside of the mouth for the health of your teeth and gums.

After the dental examination, a radiographic investigation checks for abscesses and bone health. Routinely an intraoral radiograph is done, but an OPG or CT scan may be indicated in a few cases.

Other causes of toothache

There are times when your toothache is only a referred pain and has nothing to do with any dental problems. The two most common causes of such toothaches are-

  • A sinus infection
  • A TMJ problem

Treatment options available

Depending on the cause and severity of the toothache, there are a lot of treatment modalities available. Some of the commonly used varieties are-


It is the most common option that a person adopts when in pain. But it is always advised to take the medications prescribed by a healthcare provider instead of going for the over-the-counter drugs.

Medications provide only temporary relief, and getting a complete check-up is essential for the prognosis of the tooth.

Topical fluorides

The dentist may prescribe a specific kind of fluoridated toothpaste for teeth sensitivity. Oral rinses and fluoridated toothpaste helps in improving the overall health of your teeth and gums.

Oral devices

For bruxism, a mouthguard may be prescribed t prevent extensive teeth damage.

Dental procedures

Various kinds of dental procedures are advised as per the extent of the disease. For caries, the primary goal is to remove the decay and restore it with a sound filling.

Complete debridement with a  root canal treatment is advised for extensive decay that has reached the pulp.

Extraction is indicated as a last resort for the cases where all other treatment options fail to save the tooth.

How to prevent toothache?

To prevent toothaches and maintain good oral health, it is essential to incorporate certain practices in your daily regime like-

  • Brushing twice daily
  • Rinsing your mouth after every meal
  • Avoiding high sugar content food items
  • Use dental floss, mouthwash, and tongue cleaners for complete care.
  • Visiting your dentist regularly for a dental screening every six months


There can be multiple causes of your toothache, but the sooner you get it diagnosed, the better it is. The treatment plan and the tooth’s prognosis heavily depend on the timely diagnosis and early intervention. 

Make sure you reach out to your dentist at the earliest in case of any discomfort rather than popping over-the-counter pills to reduce the intensity of the pain.