What Does My Toothache Mean?

Person placing their hand to their mouth appearing in pain.

A wise woman once said when your mouth or feet hurt, your whole body hurts. A toothache can be from mildly uncomfortable to unbearable, and it is important to know when to seek treatment if you’re experiencing tooth pain. Let’s take a look at some common causes, symptoms and treatments of a toothache.


What is a toothache?

A toothache constitutes any pain in or around a tooth, including soreness or achiness. This includes sensitivity to hot, cold or even sweet foods, pain when chewing or biting, a sharp pain or a constant dull ache.


How does your dentist know?

When you visit your dentists, even for a dental cleaning, your dentist will determine why your tooth hurts. Some measures of diagnosing including talking to you and asking questions, x-rays, tapping on the tooth or having you bite down. Sometimes a dentist will use a cold air test. These are all standard measures, and with gentle family dentistry, your dentist will keep discomfort to a minimum.


Causes of toothaches:

Tooth decay – This is erosion or cavity formation in the enamel of the tooth. Once the enamel begins to erode and decay sets in, the middle layer of the tooth can be affected causing sensitivity and pain. Usually, a simple filling will resolve this issue and cure your toothache.

Woman in dental chair with her mouth against her cheek appearing in pain.

Tooth pulp inflammation or abscess – This is when the inner pulp becomes affected through inflammation or infection. Either can lead to a very painful situation which requires treatment. Sometimes antibiotics may help, but often this will lead to a root canal.

Damaged tooth – Teeth can become damaged through accidents or normal wear and tear. Something as simple as biting down on a hard piece of food like a popcorn kernel can damage a tooth. Usually, you will have pain or sensitivity when using that tooth. Depending on the extent of the damage, your dentist may do anything from simply filing the tooth a little to a filling or crown or even consider dental implants.

Sensitive teeth – If your teeth are sensitive, let your dentist know. Though there may be nothing wrong, you can usually take measures, like using specific toothpaste, or staying away from extreme temperature foods to alleviate the sensitivity.

Gum disease – Gums play an important role in dental health, and if they begin to recede or detach, bacteria can set in causing tooth decay and sensitivity. Some dentists recommend gum grafts to help this depending on the progression of the gum disease.

Sinus infection – A sinus infection can cause tooth pain even though it’s not directly related. The pressure from the infection can make teeth (especially upper teeth) sensitive and sore. The treatment for this usually is a round of antibiotics to cure the sinus infection.


See your dentist:

If you are experiencing a toothache or dental discomfort, see your dentist. Your dentist will explain the procedures or measures to take to fix the problem. Usually, things aren’t as bad as you think, however, if left untreated, symptoms and the condition can worsen.

Please reach out to us at Watkin Dental Associates for any of your dental needs. We are here to help! See what other patients say about us here.