You have pain in or around your tooth when you have a toothache. Most of the time, a toothache means that something is wrong with the tooth or gums.

Pain from a toothache, on the other hand, is sometimes referred pain. This means that the pain is coming from somewhere else in your body.

Toothaches should never be ignored. If you don’t treat toothaches caused by tooth decay, they can get worse.

While most cases of tooth pain may not warrant emergency medical attention, severe pain in the teeth might indicate several potentially dangerous conditions.

What makes Toothache?

Gum sickness

Periodontitis, another name for gum disease, is caused by an infection of the gums.

In the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, the gums become red, hot, and swollen. It’s because your gums are inflamed.

Gingivitis and periodontitis can both cause pain that ranges from mild to severe. Most of the time, the pain is a sign that the infection has worsened.

Loss of teeth

Tooth decay, also called dental caries, is when the outer layer of the tooth, called the enamel, slowly breaks down and holes form.

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that grows on the enamel of your teeth. Those carbohydrates and sugars in your mouth are its food source. This makes an acid that eats away at the enamel, leaving holes and places where the enamel is weak. Over time, the enamel wears away, and a hole forms in the tooth.

As the decay gets closer to the dentin, the middle layer of the tooth, it can hurt and make it sensitive.

Teeth that hurt

When dentin is exposed, it makes teeth sensitive. This can happen if you have cavities, old fillings, gums pulling away from your teeth, or cracked teeth.

When you have sensitive teeth, things like brushing or being in cold air can make the pain come on quickly and sharply.


The condition known as bruxism occurs when people habitually grind their teeth and tighten their jaw muscles. This can happen while you are sleeping or awake:
Over time, it can lead to:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Teeth that are broken or chipped 
  • Tooth or face pain 
  • TMJ disorder (TMJ)

Cracked Tooth

You can break a tooth by biting down on something hard, getting smacked in the mouth, or teeth grinding.

A cracked tooth can cause sharp pain when you bite or chew, making you sensitive to temperature and food.

There are five different kinds of cracks in teeth.

Fractured cusp: The tooth’s biting surface chips or cracks, commonly around a filling. 

  • Craze lines: tiny, shallow cracks on the outer enamel.
  • Cracked tooth: A break extends down the tooth, exposing the pulp at the centre.
  • Split tooth: The tooth breaks into two parts.
  • Vertical root fracture: An infected tooth that developed a break in its root was undetected for some time.


A dental abscess is caused by a build-up of bacteria in the pulp chamber. This can happen if you don’t treat a cavity or have pulpitis. A tooth abscess is an infection migrated from the tooth to the surrounding tissue.

The infected pulp chamber tries to drain out the tip of the tooth root, which is under the pulp. This can lead to painful swelling and discomfort.

Tooth Knocked Out

Teeth can get stuck in the mouth when something stops them from moving into the right place.

Wisdom teeth often get stuck because they are the last to come in, and there may not be enough room in your mouth for them.

Pressure, pain, and swelling can all be caused by a clogged duct.

Tooth pulp inflammation

Pulpitis is a condition in which the pulp, which is the soft tissue in the middle of the tooth, gets inflamed and irritated. This can make you feel pain and be very sensitive to temperature. The following are potential triggers for a case of pneumonitis:

  • Tooth decay 
  • Tooth damage 
  • Having more than one procedure done on a tooth

How will the dentist treat my toothache?

How a dentist treats your toothache depends on what is causing it.

  • If your dentist determines that a cavity is to blame for your pain, they will either treat it or extract the tooth.
  • A root canal may be needed if the toothache is caused by an infection of the tooth’s nerve. This procedure removes the infected pulp and replaces it with a sealant. Infections are caused by bacteria that have made their way into the tooth’s root.
  • If you have a fever or your jaw is swollen, your doctor may give you an antibiotic. A small piece of food stuck under the gums, like a popcorn hull, can cause an infection. In this case, a deep cleaning may be done or suggested, and if needed, it may be followed by more gum therapy.

A toothache won’t kill you by itself. But an infection in your tooth (or anywhere else in your body) that isn’t treated can spread. You can get sick, and this sickness could turn into something serious or even kill you. So, if you have a toothache that isn’t improving, you should call your dentist.