Definition and Causes of Toothache

Toothache is the most common dental problem and the most common cause of dental cavity. It becomes a very usual problem of all ages that there are no data revealing the worldwide prevalence of the condition. This article provides an overview of toothache.

Definition and Causes of Toothache

A toothache is simply defined as the pain inside a tooth or its surrounding tissues. The most common cause of toothache is dental decay followed by gum disease.

  • The following are the other causes of toothache:
  • Abscessed tooth
  • Broken feeling
  • ToothacheInfection
  • Tooth fracture
  • Chewing gum
  • Gum infection
  • Tooth impaction
  • Tooth eruption
  • Jaw problems such as Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ)


The characteristics of a toothache vary from one person to another. But, the most prevalent symptom of toothache is a sharp, persistent and throbbing pain in the affected tooth. In mild cases, pain is only elicited when pressured is applied in the tooth. Untreated toothache may lead to infection which is characterized by fever, swelling around the tooth and in worse cases, foul drainage.

Risk Factors

Toothache is a very mundane condition among children ages 6 to 12 years old. The following are some other risk factors for toothache:

  • Black, Hispano/Latino race
  • Multiracial children
  • Children belonging to very low economic status
  • Children with special health care needs

Note: Anyone who experiences pain in the tooth that is longer than 2 days should see a doctor especially when accompanied with fever and pain in the ear.

The Dangers

You might wonder how a simple toothache can be a real threat to health when not treated. Proper identification and prompt intervention of toothache is important to avoid affecting other parts of the body such as the brain and the blood stream.

A simple tooth pain can imply development of tooth abscess. A tooth abscess indicates infection that is affecting the tooth or the gum. If left untreated, it can lead to spread of infection to the ears, eyes, nose (sinusitis) and throat. And when it reaches the brain, it can kill you. Tooth infection also results in tooth loss.


Diagnosing toothache is very simple. A dentist will conduct a physical examination as well as history taking. He or she will assess the nature of the pain, location, severity and what might have triggered the toothache. In addition to physical examination and health history taking, radiographic tests such as X-rays may be taken.


A Root Canal Treatment

A Root Canal Treatment

The treatment plan for a person with toothache depends on the cause of the problem. The following are the possible treatment for toothache along with their causes.

  • Dental cavity. Treatment may include tooth extraction or cavity filling.
  • Problem with Tooth Nerve. Most common treatment is root canal and often, followed by crown procedures. Antibiotics may be given if the person has fever or swelling.


The following are ways how to prevent toothaches:

  • Perform good oral hygiene. Dentists recommend brushing teeth at least twice a day preferably one to two hours following meals.

Important: Include gums and tongue when brushing teeth.

  • Floss once daily. Flossing helps get rid of impacted food articles that cannot be removed by simple brushing. Thus, flossing prevents bad breath. Flossing also thwarts gum diseases and other dental disorders.
  • Use toothpaste with fluoride. The only reason why fluoride is used in many toothpaste products is that it prevents cavities.
  • Avoid eating foods with high sugar content. For obvious reason, sweets are bad to oral health.
  • When wearing dentures, clean them properly like your own teeth.
  • Wear mouth guards when performing contact sports to prevent injury.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine stains teeth.