What Could Be Causing That Painful Toothache?

A tooth that’s painful, aching, or sensitive is not something to be ignored. Toothaches can
happen for a variety of reasons and it’s hard to know the exact one without help from your
professional dentist.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a toothache, you may have pain accompanied by a
persistent bad taste in your mouth, swelling in your face or gum tissue, and even a fever. These
are all signs and symptoms that you need to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Here are a few potential causes of your painful toothache that your dentist can evaluate your
smile for!

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay that has progressed to the point of a tooth infection is one of the primary reasons
people have toothaches. According to the American Dental Association, tooth decay can also
cause teeth to be sensitive and react to hot and cold foods and beverages and even cold air [1].

Unfortunately many people don’t realize they have a cavity until it has progressed to the point
of pain. Getting your tooth pain addressed as quickly as possible can eliminate the need for an
extraction and save your tooth!

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding—also referred to as bruxism—can put immense pressure on teeth that can lead
to aching. Most people who suffer from bruxism grind their teeth while asleep and are unaware
they have this habit.

If you’re consistently grinding your teeth, you could be experiencing painful aching as the result
of the additional stress on your teeth, which can cause tooth fractures, inflamed gum tissue,
and rapid tooth wear [2]. There is treatment for bruxism to curb the damage and alleviate your

Gum Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, can cause teeth to ache. If gum disease progresses to the
point that it causes an active infection in the mouth, your gum tissue may contain pockets of
infection around your tooth roots that can lead to painful teeth and sore gums.

Gum disease is common in American adults; however, the earlier you catch the disease, the
easier it is to treat, so don’t wait to seek help.

Impacted Wisdom Tooth

Wisdom teeth don’t erupt until the teenage years (and sometimes in early adulthood). Wisdom
teeth that are impacted come in at harsh angles, leading them to press against the surrounding
teeth which can cause toothaches that can worsen as the wisdom teeth attempt to emerge.

Only x-rays with your dentist can tell if your wisdom teeth are impacted and need to be
extracted. Wisdom tooth extractions are common and a relatively simple procedure that can
alleviate your toothache and get your smile feeling good again in no time!

Oral Cancer

Pain in the mouth is also associated with oral cancer and may masquerade as a toothache.
Some of the symptoms of a tooth infection and oral cancer can overlap, such as having a lump
in the mouth, swelling, or trouble swallowing [3]. Your dentist can conduct an oral cancer
screening during your exam to determine if you should be evaluated further for oral cancer.

See Your Dentist!

Whether your toothache is being caused by a simple cavity or a complex case of gum disease,
it’s never wise to ignore pain. Your dentist can tell what’s going on and work with you to
effectively treat the root cause of your toothache so that you can feel better as soon as

1. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sensitive-teeth
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4761372/
3. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/oral-cavity-and-oropharyngeal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-symptoms.html