Toothache: Causes and Treatment

Toothache: Causes and Treatment | HealthSoul

Dental pain or toothache is one of the most common symptoms which brings individuals to meet a dentist. It also makes a large component of dental emergencies. A multitude of causes underlie toothaches and almost everyone has experienced it at some point in their lives.

Causes of Toothache

  • Tooth decay: cavities and dental caries are the most common cause of toothache
  • Infection or abscess in the root of the tooth
  • Trauma to the teeth
  • Impacted teeth: When a tooth has trouble growing through the gums it can get stuck and cause pain
  • Gum disease or Gingivitis: infection and inflammation of the gums
  • Sensitive teeth: Exposure to heat or cold causes pain, this is generally due to disease of the roots of the teeth
  • Sinus infection: This can present with pain in the upper mouth appearing as a toothache

Evaluation of Toothache

On presenting to a dentist, the cause of your toothache would be evaluated by the following

  • Dental examination
  • Imaging: a panoramic radiograph is an X-ray of the upper and lower jaw that can identify impacted teeth, fractures, and abscesses in the roots.

Treatment of Toothache

Prior to meeting a dentist, the following measures can be taken to relieve the pain.

  • Rinse and clean the mouth with warm water.
  • Gentle flossing can be attempted to remove food debris.
  • A cold compress can be applied externally for pain following trauma.
  • An over the counter pain killer can be taken.
  • Avoid applying any medicines or creams directly over the tooth. Aspirin and other local medicines can cause the burning of the gums.
  • Benzocaine, a local anesthetic can be applied lightly but carries a risk of getting absorbed into the bloodstream to cause methemoglobinemia. This decreases the oxygen carriage of the blood.

Treatment specific to the cause will be administered by the dentist

  • Tooth decay: Filling, crowning, or extraction of the tooth
  • Impacted tooth: Extraction
  • Abscess: Root canal treatment

For long term care of your teeth from preventable causes of toothache, maintenance of oral hygiene is recommended with brushing twice a day and flossing once daily by the American Dental Association


  • Dental Emergency – American Dental Association.
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