Tooth Pain: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

tooth pain

Tooth pain is a very painful and frustrating experience.

You want to get rid of it as soon as it happens.

Furthermore, it hinders your diet and can also hinder you from doing anything else because it is so sharp and sudden.

Though, it can also be a dull pain.

One of the main reasons behind it is when the nerves in the roots of the tooth or those surrounding the teeth suffer irritation.

This can happen because of decay, infection and tooth loss.

This article discusses the causes behind this unpleasant experience and what you can do to treat and prevent it.

tooth pain causes

Causes of Tooth Pain

To understand how pain originates in teeth, we first need to talk about the structure of a tooth.

The pulp is percent in the center of a tooth.

This area contains nerve endings.

They are sensitive to pain and if inflammation occurs in the pulp i.e. pulpitis then the nerves immediately detect it causing a sharp sensation.

However, there is another way to get a toothache too.

This is because of referred pain. i.e. the pain that occurs in some other body part but travels to the jaw, as a result, causes your teeth to ache.

Sinuses, ear infections and pain, heart problems and TMJ can cause this sensation.

Therefore, it is not exactly a toothache but appears to be one.

The common reasons behind the pain originating inside your teeth are:

Cavities and Tooth Decay 

When bacteria and plaque build-up inside your teeth, they start eroding the enamel.

As the enamel wears away and decays, teeth are more susceptible to attack from bacteria.

Therefore, it results in a cavity as the decay keeps increasing.

A cavity is generally painless, however, once it makes its way through the enamel and into the dentin it can result in sensitivity while eating and touching the teeth.

You can prevent cavities in kids and adults by maintaining good oral hygiene habits. More on that later.

Gum Disease

This is a gum infection that can worsen over time resulting in tooth loss.

This begins with plaque accumulating on teeth and resulting in gingivitis.

If you do not treat gingivitis then your gums will inflame and swell.

Eventually, your gums will detach from your teeth with pockets of bacteria in between them.

At this time, the roots inside of teeth get in contact with the bacteria sticky biofilm, plaque.

Hence, they become sensitive, ache and can result in decay.

sensitive tooth pain

Sensitive Teeth 

If your tooth enamel is worn out, you are more susceptible to developing sensitivity.

Your teeth feel it more when your dentin is exposed.

This means that neither the enamel nor the cementum is on your teeth anymore.

The cementum tissue covers the root of the teeth.

Therefore, the outer layer and root both are exposed.

The reason behind that is an injury or damage cracking teeth, or cavities decaying your enamel over time.

Moreover, harsh brushing and receding gums can also cause your dentin to expose.

Hence, your teeth become sensitive because of external stimuli which are usually touching, cold or hot.

Damage/Injury/Trauma to The Tooth 

Having damaged teeth such as fractures, cracks, and cavities can cause pain.

You can get this while playing sports.

Furthermore, teeth grinding can also cause your teeth to crack over time.

When you eat and chew using your teeth you can feel a sharp pain if there are cracks inside.

In fact, the aches will last longer if you have a bigger crack.

Besides hot and cold, you will also feel sharp sensitivity against sweet and sour foods and drinks.

If the crack is big then bacteria surrounding teeth and cavity can enter the pulp.

This can lead to pulpitis and if that increases then a pus forms inside which is a tooth abscess.

impacted wisdom tooth

Impacted Teeth

Your wisdom teeth erupt when you are 17 to 21 years old.

However, by that time your face and jaw have already developed.

Therefore, there is a chance that there is not enough space to cater fit other teeth.

Therefore they become impacted.

Which is to say, impacted wisdom teeth do not erupt properly and stay beneath the gums.

It causes swelling, exerts pressure and results in wisdom teeth pain.

These all result in sharp or dull pain in the tooth.

Furthermore, jaw pain and a headache may accompany it as well as sensitivity to hot and cold stimuli.

Besides sweet, sour and acidic foods will also bother you.

Tapping on the teeth may also cause them to hurt.

It is concerning if these symptoms accompany your pain:

  • Fever
  • Bad breath and bad taste in the mouth
  • Bleeding from the gums and teeth
  • Swelling of glands, teeth and jaw

It shows the presence of gum disease and fractures.

You need to contact your doctor immediately if you notice these symptoms.

Especially if you have a fever alongside regular bad breath, spaces and gaps emerging between teeth and them loosening a bit or your gums are bleeding.

Furthermore, if some pus starts draining from your teeth alongside cracks in your tooth, fever and headache then it is a medical emergency and you should visit your doctor to get medical advice immediately. As it might need a wisdom teeth removal.

They will conduct an oral exam and take your medical history.

Moreover, they will take a Dental X-ray to remove any doubts and diagnose the problem.

If it is simple teeth and jaw problem then they will proceed to give medications such as antibiotics.

If a fever, headache and neurological problems accompany it, then they may admit you to the hospital instead.

treatment at dental clinic

Tooth Pain Relief Through Medical Treatment


Your dentist may prescribe you an antibiotic if they detect an infection for treating a toothache.

They will especially give it to you if you have abscesses and gingivitis.

These pain relievers also help to cure fever and jaw pain.

Though, you will also get it for sinusitis (sinus infections) which isn’t directly related to the mouth but causes referred pain.

Furthermore, they will give tooth pain relief medicines such as NSAIDs and ibuprofen.

However, severe pain will require taking opioids.

Dental Treatment 

If your decay has become worse to form cavities, first your dentist will remove the decay and perform a tooth filling.

For abscesses, your dentist will make an incision to remove the pockets and drain them.

Whereas if the infection in the pulp i.e. pulpitis grows then you can only get a root canal.

Moreover, if your tooth has cracked or is fractured then your dentist will perform a filling, place a crown, do a root canal or extract it on the extent of the damage.

Before advising medications, your dentist will perform a dental procedure.

Mouth Rinses and Fluoride Treatment 

Anti-bacterial rinses containing Chlorhexidine can treat gingivitis.

Furthermore, fluoride rinses and toothpaste can protect your teeth from erosion and decay.

Your dentist can recommend you to use fluoride toothpaste and apply topical fluoride to your teeth for enamel protection.

Toothpaste with hydrogen peroxide is for whitening but your dentist may recommend them if plaque has stained your teeth besides causing a toothache.

Besides that, your dentist can fix your mouth guards to wear at night.

This helps to prevent unconscious grinding and clenching.

However, it will not fix bruxism unless you deal with the underlying cause.

Besides these treatments, you can try home remedies to see if you can find any relief.

However, your first choice should be to visit the dentist as home remedies can even worsen your condition.

Though, if you are googling “how to stop tooth pain fast at home?” then refer below.

putitng cotton ball in mouth to cure ache

Home Remedies and Prevention

While suffering from pain, try to avoid eating or drinking anything that is hot or cold.

It can give an unpleasant sensation and launch a sharp ache inside your teeth.

If your pain is severe then take an over-the-counter medicine such as ibuprofen.

Adults can take aspirin if their jaws hurt, though it is not suitable for children.

Instead, they can take acetaminophen.

Using fluoride toothpaste and fluoride rinses can help decrease sensitivity.

In fact, it can also reverse early gingivitis and decay.

You can also take a salt water rinse, especially swish around the areas that ache.

Furthermore placing a clove or a cotton ball that contains oil of cloves inside the area that pains can provide temporary relief.

You can also wet peppermint tea bags, use it then freeze it and place it on your tooth to numb the pain.

Though, you can easily prevent all these problems as toothache is preventable.

If you fear a cracked, chipped or fractured tooth then wear a mouthguard while you are doing sports.

Moreover,  if you detect bruxism then wear it at night too but even better, handle the reason behind your stress.

The rest of the issues stem from oral hygiene.

Limit your sugar intake by eating healthy fruits and vegetables more often.

Also, replace juices and soft drinks with drinking water.

Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day.

Use fluoride toothpaste to brush and also use fluoridated water and rinses.

Moreover, use your brush gently and remember to replace it every two to three months.

Additionally, you can incorporate an interdental brush into your routine.

But most importantly, visit a dentist every 6 months to maintain good oral health.

dental visit for tooth pain


By following these measures you can prevent the frustrating and painful experience of tooth pain.

Though, if you do not visit for regular dental health checkups then your condition may worsen.

Hence, book an appointment with your dentist at the earliest to get healthy teeth.







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