What is a toothache?
“Toothache” usually refers to pain around the teeth or jaws primarily as a result of a dental condition. Toothaches are mostly caused by tooth problems, such as a dental cavity, a cracked tooth, an exposed tooth root, or gum disease. Besides, disorders of the jaw joint (temporo-mandibular joint) can also cause pain that is referred to as “toothache.” The severity of a toothache can range from chronic and mild to sharp and excruciating. The pain may be aggravated when chewing food or when drinking cold or hot beverages. A thorough oral examination, with the support of dental X-rays, can help determine whether the toothache is coming from a tooth or if it is related to a jaw problem.
Tooth pain may be expressed as sharp, throbbing, or constant. In some people, pain results only when pressure is applied to the tooth
welling around the tooth
Fever or headache
Foul-tasting drainage from the infected tooth
What are the causes of toothaches?
Dental cavities & dental abscess
The most common cause of a toothache is a dental cavity. The enamel is the outermost white hard surface and the dentin is the yellow layer just beneath the enamel. Both layers together protect the inner living tooth tissue called the pulp, where blood vessels and nerves reside. Certain bacteria in the mouth convert simple sugars into acid. The acid softens and (along with saliva) dissolves the enamel and dentin, creating cavities.
The second most common cause of toothache is gum disease (periodontal disease). Gum disease relates to inflammation of the soft tissue (gingiva) and abnormal loss of bone that surrounds and holds the teeth in place.
Tooth root sensitivities
Toothache can also be caused by exposed tooth roots. Typically, the roots are the lower two-thirds of the teeth that are normally buried in bone. The bacterial toxins dissolve the bone around the roots and cause the gum and the bone to recede, exposing the roots. The condition of exposed roots is called “recession.” The exposed roots can become extremely sensitive to cold, hot, and sour foods because they are no longer protected by healthy gum and bone.
Cracked tooth pain
A cracked tooth can trigger a toothache caused by a broken tooth (tooth fracture) without associated cavity or advanced gum disease. Biting with the area of tooth fracture can cause severe sharp pains. Your dentist can usually detect the fracture by painting a special dye on the cracked tooth or shining a special light on the tooth.