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10 of the Most Common Reasons for a Toothache

July 23, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drhoward @ 10:21 pm
Woman with toothache needing to see dentist

Many of us know the miserable feeling of having a toothache. However, there are many different types of toothaches with a variety of different causes. It can be difficult to get to the root of the problem, especially when you’re in pain. Continue reading to learn more from your dentist about the top ten different reasons that you are experiencing a toothache so that you can figure out the next course of action.

Tooth Decay

The most common reason for a painful toothache is something that the majority of people have experienced at some point in their life: a cavity. If this is the reason for your toothache, that means that the tooth decay has progressed far enough where it has reached the dentin, an inner layer of the tooth. Once the dentin becomes damaged, the tooth will become very sensitive. If the pain becomes more of a sharp pain, the decay could have reached the center of the tooth. This pain is extremely intense and requires dental care before it causes bigger problems.

Tooth Abscess

If tooth decay has advanced to the point where it is affecting the root, it’s likely that the surrounding area has become infected. This causes you to experience widespread pulsating pain. In this case, you should see your dentist for an emergency appointment. This is very serious and can result in bone and tissue loss if left untreated.

Gum Disease

This usually consists of dull pain in the mouth, bleeding and irritated gums, and a toothache. You should see your dentist as soon as you can. When left untreated, gum disease can progress to later stages that result in tooth loss and infection.

Tooth Fracture

There are many different ways that teeth can be fractured. Sometimes it involves you chewing on something too hard or playing sports. If the fracture is bad enough, you can experience an excruciating toothache. See your dentist as soon as possible or else the fracture can get worse.


If you experience sharp tooth pain while eating or drinking things that are hot or cold, usually this is just tooth sensitivity. This often occurs when your enamel wears down and the dentin of your teeth is exposed. This isn’t usually a dental emergency. You could try using toothpaste that is made specifically for people with sensitive teeth.

Damaged Fillings

Fillings cover a vulnerable part of your tooth. When it becomes damaged, these sensitive areas are left vulnerable to different temperatures, bacteria, and food particles. Book an emergency appointment to have this repaired before you suffer from additional decay.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, usually occurs during stressful situations or when sleeping. This can result in a sore jawbone, headaches, and broken teeth. All of these can be extremely painful. Usually, the best thing to do is ask your dentist about custom mouthguards that are made to relieve the stress on your teeth while you sleep.

Vigorous Brushing

If you are using the wrong tools or technique when you’re brushing, you can cause irritation, inflammation, and bleeding gums. Remember to always use a soft-bristled toothbrush and use proper brushing technique to prevent damage to your gums and teeth.

Impacted Teeth

Teeth that are misaligned can press against each other which results in aches and pains. This often occurs when wisdom teeth fail to break through the gumline. Your dentist will likely propose a wisdom tooth extraction or an orthodontic solution.

Orthodontic Alignment

If you have braces, a retainer, or another dental alignment system, you are likely to feel some oral discomfort for the first few days after tightening. If the pain is extremely uncomfortable, let your dentist know.

If you are still unsure what the cause of your toothache is, give your dentist a call. He will be happy to help you figure out the cause so you can get some relief.

About the Author

Dr. Nelson Y. Howard serves patients in San Marcos and surrounding communities. He earned his dental degree from the UCLA School of Dentistry and has gained over three decades of experience. He is the President and Founder of the West Coast Society for Cosmetic Dentistry as well as the North County Dentists Disability Service. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (760) 599-6559.

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