Why Does My Tooth Hurt? Causes of Toothache


Whether it’s dull or sharp, toothaches can be hard to ignore. But your tooth can hurt without it being a critical issue or underlying disease.

For example, your teeth may hurt when you bite something hard. You can also experience toothache when something is lodged between your teeth or even while flossing.

Interestingly, pain can originate from the jaw or ear, move around and mislead you into thinking it’s a toothache.

For the fact that you’re reading this article, chances are your case is beyond all of the above.

Causes of toothache

Toothache is caused when the nerve in your pulp, the softest part and center of your tooth, becomes inflamed. This is the only part of the teeth that contains nerve endings, hence the perception of actual pain.

A toothache may be caused when tooth decay has progressed deep into your teeth to the pulp. This progression can be catastrophic for your teeth, and it’s crucial you visit an emergency dental clinic as soon as possible. The toothache is a sign that the nerve endings have become exposed to bacteria.

The bacteria will get to the surrounding gums and cause even more harm if left untreated.

What if it isn’t tooth decay?

Tooth decay is the foremost cause of toothaches that just won’t go away. However, you can feel occasional tooth pain for the following reasons:

Sensitive teeth

A hard layer, called the enamel, covers a healthy tooth. This layer can wear over time, exposing the dentine — the middle layer. When this part becomes exposed, hold/cold food and drinks can reach the nerve endings. You’ll feel that sharp, unpleasant sensation.

Gum disease can also lead to sensitive teeth. As the gum shrinks away from the teeth, the roots become exposed, making it easy for food and drink temperature to reach the nerve endings. Brushing too hard can also damage your gums.

A typical side effect of teeth whitening is sensitive teeth, which you’ll feel for a few weeks. A filling can also cause it.

Teeth grinding

Do you often grind your teeth? If yes, the enamel may have worn away over time, exposing your dentine. And that will make your teeth sensitive. Grinding teeth often results from stress and sleep disorders, in which you grind your teeth while asleep.

Wisdom teeth

Your wisdom teeth pushing through your gums will most likely lead to pain. This happens to children and adults alike. During this time, food can get lodged underneath the gum, decay, and cause infection.

Other indirect causes of toothache

You may experience a toothache that results not from the tooth itself but an issue somewhere else in your body. These can include:

  • Headaches, such as migraine and cluster headaches
  • Sinuses
  • Issues in any area that connects the jaw to the skull.

Very rarely, a heart attack or nerve-ending disease can lead to toothache.

Other issues associated with toothache

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in your mouth, due to abscess
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swelling in the gum or jaw.

These signs are often symptoms of tooth decay. If you currently experience them, it’s vital you visit a dentist urgently to prevent further damage.

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