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Understanding the Most Common Toothache Causes

24 Mar 2023

Sensitivity, sharp sensations, and throbbing pains in your teeth and the surrounding areas are never welcome. Toothache is a common problem that everyone would no doubt like to avoid. But one thing is always true about toothache; you should never ignore it.

There are a few possible causes for your toothache. You may have a broken tooth that’s become infected after food has become trapped, you may have tooth decay, or you could have lost a filling.

Whatever the cause, a toothache is often unbearable, and there is never a good time for one to strike. So, if you’ve got a toothache, what can you do?

In this article, we’ll discuss the most common toothache causes and symptoms, as well as the best treatment and prevention options. 

What Does Toothache Hurt So Much?

Although unwanted, pain serves a valuable purpose for our bodies. When we feel pain, it’s a warning sign of potential danger. Your toothache is telling you to get treatment as you may have an infection. 

Inside our teeth, we have living tissue and nerve endings. In fact, these nerves are some of the most sensitive in the entire human body. If you have an infection or abscess, this can irritate the nerves and cause pain. 

What Are the Symptoms of Toothache?

There are a few types of pain you may feel in and around your teeth. Alongside this, you may experience other symptoms. 

Your toothache may be throbbing or sharp. You may experience this pain intermittently when you bite or chew, it could be brought on when your tooth is exposed to anything cold like ice cream, or it could be constant. 

Along with the tooth pain, you may also experience:

  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Swelling in the area around your tooth
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Bad breath

In severe cases, you may also experience difficulty swallowing or breathing. In these instances, it’s vital you seek emergency dental care immediately. 

What Causes Toothache?

Any of the following issues may cause your toothache:

  • Tooth decay – This is caused by naturally occurring bacteria feeding on sugar in your diet, which leads to the production of enamel-weakening acid
  • A dental fracture – Broken teeth can easily become infected when bacteria enter cracks
  • A tooth erupting – If a wisdom tooth is erupting, it may cause pain 
  • An abscessed tooth – If you have a bacterial infection at the centre of your tooth, pus can build up, and your tooth may become abscessed
  • Infected gums – Infections in your gums are caused by bacteria
  • A damaged filling – Over time, fillings can become weak and may fall out leaving your tooth exposed
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth – Repeated motions over a prolonged period can wear down your teeth

Will My Toothache Go Away On Its Own?

In most cases, toothache won’t go away without dental treatment. It’s common for a toothache to subside and return; however, if you’re experiencing a toothache caused by damage or decay to your tooth, it’s important to seek our help. 

Untreated toothache can worsen. A small cavity in the surface of your tooth may become an entry point for bacteria. Eventually, the bacteria will enter the pulp chamber at the heart of your teeth and infect the living tissue. At this point, the pain will grow, and you’ll increase the risk to the tooth. 

Untreated dental infections can kill teeth before spreading to other parts of the mouth and body. The earlier we catch a dental problem, the less damage there will be, and the easier it will be to treat. 

What Can I Do to Treat Toothache?

While you’re waiting for your dental appointment, there are a few things you can do to help minimise and manage your pain. 

Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater is an effective way of temporarily disinfecting your mouth and reducing inflammation. Take half a spoonful of salt and stir it into a glass of warm water, and swish it around your mouth thoroughly. Spit the water out after rinsing. 

There are several over-the-counter painkillers that can help. Ibuprofen is helpful as it helps reduce inflammation. You may also find dental gels helpful for reducing your symptoms. 

Applying a cold compress is another way to reduce swelling and pain. The easiest way to do this is by wrapping ice or a bag of frozen peas in a towel and holding it to your face for around 20 minutes. 

Other at-home ways of managing dental pain include using clove oil, garlic, and peppermint tea. 

How We Treat Toothache

At Love Teeth, our friendly dentists will give you a thorough checkup which may include taking digital scans or x-rays of your teeth to look for the cause of the pain. We’ll ask you some questions about the symptoms. 

If a cavity is causing the pain, this is easily fixed using a filling. This is a short and simple procedure. We’ll give you an anaesthetic before your treatment to help manage discomfort. 

If the pulp inside your tooth has become infected, we must perform a root canal treatment. This is a routine procedure with a high success rate. Again, we’ll reduce your discomfort using an anaesthetic. 

In some cases, antibiotics can help. We’ll always do everything we can to save a tooth. An extraction is only ever an option when completely necessary. 

How Can I Prevent Toothache?

The best way to prevent toothache is by practising good oral hygiene. Twice daily brushing using fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and using mouthwash are all great ways to help fight tooth decay and prevent infection. 

Regular checkups and visits to our dental hygienists are also important. If we see you often, we’ll keep an eye on the health of your teeth. A deep professional clean helps remove tartar which could damage your teeth over time. 

Fighting Toothache With Love Teeth

At Love Teeth, we want to help you maintain a healthy smile. Our friendly team are always here to care for your teeth with checkups, advice, essential treatments, and emergency appointments. 

If you have a toothache, call us today to arrange an appointment in one of our Surrey clinics. 


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