Common Causes of Toothaches and What to Do About Them

Common Causes of Toothaches and What to Do About Them

When a person says that they have a toothache, the most common thought people have is that this is because of tooth decay. What most people may not realize is that toothaches can actually happen for many different reasons. These various causes also bring about different levels of pain, with some more excruciating than others.

The pain that you can feel when you experience a toothache can range from a dull throbbing around the tooth, to a sharp pain that shoots through your jaw when you bite into something. You may also find that the area around the tooth is swollen or sensitive to pressure, and may even have a foul tasting and smelling substance coming out of it. In order for you to get rid of the pain you are experiencing, you need to first find out why you are suffering from a toothache. Here are some of the more common causes and what you should do when you experience these:

Tooth decay – this is probably the most common cause of toothaches, and is due to improper care of your teeth. A shallow cavity does not really bother anyone, but if left unattended, it can deepen and can be the cause of sharp pain when food gets stuck in it. While prevention is your best recourse for cavities, when you feel pain from one, you should definitely visit a dentist, who will then make the decision to either fill up the cavity, or in worse-case scenarios, take out the tooth.

Abscessed tooth – this is when the area between the tooth and the gums is infected. Abscesses come in three general types – gingival abscess, periodontal abscess, and periapical abscess. These are all generally caused by bacteria which live in plaque, and if your teeth are neglected, the bacteria infect the tooth, or the area around the tooth, causing pus to form. Gingival abscess affects the gums, periodontal abscess affects the bone tissue structure that supports the teeth, periapical abscess is an infection found in the tooth’s soft pulp.

In order to get rid of the pain that comes with this problem, you need to go to a dentist immediately. The treatment of an abscess involves the removal or draining of the pus, and the method used will depend on what kind of abscess you have. Sometimes, this may involve surgery, and the pain can be treated with the use of over-the-counter pain relievers.

Cracked tooth – also called a fractured tooth, this can occur when you bite into something hard, like a nutshell, a fruit seed, or even a pen. Depending on how severe the crack is, you may find yourself needing to have certain dental procedures performed, like a crown or even a root canal. If you cannot go to your dentist immediately to have this taken care of, some of the things you can do to help ease the pain include over-the-counter pain relievers, avoiding food and drinks that are either hot or cold, and gargling with warm salted water.

These are just a few of the more common reasons why people suffer from toothaches. The best solution to these problems is to go and see your dentist immediately. If you cannot do so right away, using a pain reliever is probably your next best option, however you should not depend too much on these medications. The longer you delay your visit to the dentist, the worse your dental pains will become.

It is also possible that some toothaches are not caused by problems in your mouth, and are actually caused by other things, like an ear infection, heart condition, or even a sinus problem. Visiting your dentist as soon as possible will also help you find this out. If your dentist finds that the pain is not tooth related, he or she can then refer you to a doctor to help with what actually ails you.

Dr. Allan Hawryluk
Follow Us

Dr. Allan Hawryluk

Allan Hawryluk Jr. is a Mississauga-based dentist who has built a reputation for comprehensive dental care. Born and raised in Port Credit, he returned after completing his dental residency in 2003 at the University of Colorado, Denver Health Sciences Center. He feels privileged to serve the community and is committed to maintaining our clinic standards set by his late father - Dr. Allan R. Hawryluk (Sr).