What's Causing Your Toothache?

A toothache is one of the more common symptoms of dental problems, and one that a large portion of people will experience in their lifetime. The pain of a toothache is quite unlike any other, causing significant discomfort that can make it difficult to concentrate, sleep, or do much of anything, particularly if it's at the extreme end of the pain spectrum.

Like any medical symptom, there's bound to be an underlying cause of tooth pain. Before you rush off to a dentist to get your tooth checked out, have a look through this list of potential causes and see if you can work out what might be giving you problems.

Tooth decay

This is one of the most common causes of toothache. If decay has become severe enough, bacteria can reach sensitive parts of the mouth and cause swelling, leading to significant pain. Although regular check-ups can usually prevent decay from getting to this point, that's not always the case.

A broken tooth

If this is the cause of your toothache, you'll mostly likely know right away. Teeth can break for many reasons, from impact injuries to hard foods, but you're unlikely to miss it if it happens to you. A broken tooth is an obvious source of dental pain and one you should get seen to as soon as possible.

Gum problems

Gum disease and its related issues can build gradually over time, but the noticeable symptoms can come on quite suddenly. If the gums are inflamed and irritated, this can be the source of pain in itself. When they begin to recede, the sensitive part of teeth can become exposed, which can lead to quite severe discomfort. This type of pain may come and go, getting worse especially when exposed to particularly hot or cold, sugary, or acidic foods.

Lost filling

Like a broken tooth, a lost filling is unlikely to go unnoticed. Because this can leave sensitive tooth areas exposed, it should be dealt with quickly.


An abscess can become seriously infected if left untreated, but the pain is likely to become bad enough before then that you'll head straight to the dentist. In addition to the discomfort, an abscess may be accompanied by noticeable swelling, but not always.


Sometimes, what appears to be dental pain isn't actually originating from the teeth. It might actually be caused by your sinuses if the discomfort is only in the upper part of the mouth and if it's on both sides.

If you're having trouble discerning the cause of your toothache, contact a local dentist as soon as possible so they can address the issue.