toothache is pain that you feel in or around your tooth. Most often, toothache
pain is a sign that there’s something wrong with your tooth or gums. Sometimes,
however, toothache pain is referred pain. That means the pain is caused by a
problem elsewhere in your body.
should never ignore toothaches. Toothaches caused by tooth decay can get worse
if left untreated. Toothaches are usually not life-threatening, but in some
cases, they can be signs of serious conditions that require immediate medical
What Do Toothaches Feel
pain can range from mild to severe, and it may be constant or intermittent.
- throbbing pain or swelling in or around your tooth or gum
- sharp pain when you touch your tooth or bite down
- tenderness and achiness in or around your tooth
- painful sensitivity in your tooth in response to hot or
cold foods and drinks
- burning or shock-like pain, which is uncommon
Underlying Causes of
Common Causes of Toothaches
decay is the most common reason for toothaches. If tooth decay goes untreated,
an abscess can develop. This is an infection near your tooth or in the pulp
inside your tooth. See your dentist right away if you think you have a dental
abscess. In rare cases, the infection can spread to your brain, which can be
toothache can also be caused by an impacted tooth. This happens when one of
your teeth, usually a wisdom tooth, is stuck in your gum tissue or bone. As a
result, it can’t erupt, or grow in.
Common Causes of Referred Pain Toothaches
is a condition in which your sinuses become inflamed due to a viral, bacterial,
or fungal infection in your sinus cavity. Because the roots of your upper teeth
are close to your sinuses, sinusitis can cause pain in your upper teeth.
Less Common Causes of Referred Pain Toothaches
disease and lung cancer can also cause toothaches. In some cases, toothache may
be a warning sign of a heart attack.
and lung disease can cause toothache pain due to the location of your vagus
nerve. This nerve runs from your brain to the different organs in your body,
including your heart and lungs. It passes through your jaw.
Rare Causes of Referred Pain Toothaches
neuralgia and occipital neuralgia are painful neurological conditions that
cause your trigeminal and occipital nerves to become irritated or inflamed.
These nerves service your skull, face, and teeth. When they become inflamed,
pain can feel like it’s coming from your teeth.
usually require medical treatment. Home treatment may temporarily relieve your
pain while you wait for your dentist or doctor’s appointment.
people go to a dentist for a toothache, since most toothaches are caused by
problems with your teeth. Your dentist will use X-rays and a physical exam of
your teeth to detect tooth decay or other dental problems.
dentist may give you painkillers and antibiotics to treat an infection. If your
toothache is due to tooth decay, your dentist will remove the decay with a
drill and fill the space with dental materials. An impacted tooth may require
your dentist can’t find the cause of your toothache, they may refer you to a
doctor for further diagnosis and treatment.
doctor may treat sinusitis with antibiotics or decongestant medications. In
rare cases, they may use surgery to open your nasal passages.
Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia and Occipital Neuralgia
no cure for these conditions. Treatment usually consists of relieving your pain
Treatment for Heart Attack, Heart Disease, and Lung Cancer
your dentist suspects that you’re having a heart attack, they will send you to
the emergency department. If your dentist suspects that you have heart or lung
disease, they will refer you to a doctor for further testing.
that may help temporarily relieve your tooth pain include:
- over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin
- over-the-counter topical dental pain relievers, such as
benzocaine (Anbesol, Orajel)
- over-the-counter decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed),
if your pain is due to sinus congestion
- clove oil applied to your aching tooth
When a Toothache Is an
emergency treatment if you have the following symptoms, along with a toothache:
- swelling in your jaw or face, which may be a sign that your
tooth infection is spreading
- chest pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or other
signs of a heart attack
- wheezing, a cough that won’t go away, or coughing up blood,
which may be signs of lung cancer
How to Prevent Toothaches
help prevent toothaches, brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day and
get dental checkups and cleanings twice a year, or as often as recommended by
can help keep your heart and lungs healthy by not smoking, eating a low-fat and
high-fiber diet, and exercising at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week.
Get your doctor’s permission before starting an exercise routine.