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Updated by amelia-grantny on Nov 12, 2018
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7 Common Causes of a Toothache

Nobody likes having a toothache, which can be especially scary if you don’t know what's causing it. A toothache is described as any soreness, pain, or ache in or around a tooth. It may cause your tooth to be temperature sensitive, painful when biting or chewing, sensitive to sweets, or it may have a dull ache or sharp pain.


Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay refers to erosion and cavity formation in the outer surface (enamel) of the tooth. Whenever you have plaque on your teeth, it will feed on starches and sugars from food particles left in your mouth. This will lead to acid production which eats away at the enamel, creating weak areas and holes. As this decay spreads deeper into a tooth, it can create many unpleasant symptoms including tooth sensitivity.


Inflammation of the Tooth Pulp

This condition is also called pulpitis and it means the tissue in the center of your tooth has gotten inflamed and irritated. This can lead to a pressure inside the tooth and put pressure on the surrounding tissue. Depending on how severe the inflammation is, symptoms can be mild to extreme.



If you have a buildup of bacteria inside the pulp chamber which gets infected, it can lead to a condition called dental abscess. Your body will then try to drain the infection out of the very tip of the tooth root. This can lead to severe pain that also comes with swelling if left untreated. A dental X-ray is able to detect most abscesses.


Cracked Tooth

Over time, your teeth can weaken from all the biting and chewing. Eating hard objects like popcorn or ice can cause a tooth to crack. Having a cracked tooth can cause pain when chewing or biting. You may also experience sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures as well as to sweet and sour foods. Treatment will depend on the extent of the damage and location and direction of the crack.


Impacted Tooth

An impacted tooth can occur when it’s prevented from moving into its proper position by other teeth, bone, or gums. Wisdom teeth are the most common ones to become impacted since they are the last to erupt. When the jawbone has no room for the extra teeth, they stay stuck under the gum. This can create pain, pressure, and even jaw soreness.


Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gums surrounding the teeth, also know as gingivitis and periodontitis. This can over time lead to bone loss and deterioration of the gums. Causing gums to get detached from the teeth and form air pockets which will fill with bacteria. This exposes your tooth roots to plaque and makes them susceptible to decay and sensitive to cold and touch. This will require a gingivectomy procedure to fix.


Sensitive Teeth

There are times when you may notice one or more of your teeth are sensitive to cold liquids, air, and foods. This means you have developed sensitive teeth linked to cold temperatures. To help alleviate your symptoms, you can use a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth like Sensodyne. You can also apply fluoride to your teeth. But it’s best to consult with a dentist to see what will be best for you.