Daily Updates in dentistry, Definitions

Causes of a Toothache

Toothache which many do not know is the most painful among all the pains in the human body, the excruciating pain makes life hell.

Toothache: It is also know and Odontalgia ( Odonto-Tooth, Algia-Pain ) , it means pain in the tooth. Most of the times the cause of the pain is not in the tooth but surrounding the tooth like the gums and the soft tissue surrounding it.

The cause can be Inflammation (or) infection of the pulp tissue which causes this excruciating pain.

Why is toothache the most painful ???

The nerve supply and blood supply in the whole body is freely spread and it has space for expanding (due to odema) in cases of inflammation, But in case of the pulp tissue which is surrounded by the hard walls of Dentin around it there is no space for expanding so the pain exerted during the inflammation, this causes the excruciating pain.

Causes Of Tooth Ache/Odontalgia:

1) Dental Caries / Decay of Tooth:

The Bacterial infection which demineralizes the tooth structure is themost common cause of tooth ache. Dental caries starts showing pain when it reaches the Dentinal layer of the tooth which is supplied with nerve endings. So Dental caries is the most common cause of tooth ache.

2) Sensitivity:

Sensitivity of the teeth is also a major cause of toothache, as we take in cold and hot stuff the sudden sensitivity leads to toothache. The temperature change anlong with the Exposed dentin due to the loss of surface Enamel leads to the pain.

3) Inflammation of the tooth pulp

Also called pulpitis. It may be a result of trauma, such as thermal insult from repeated dental procedures or it may be caused by a dental caries. When the pulp becomes inflamed pressure begins to build up in the pulp cavity exerting pressure on the nerve of the tooth and the surrounding tissues. Pressure from inflammation can cause mild to extreme pain, depending upon the severity of the inflammation.

4) Impacted tooth

An impacted tooth is any tooth that is prevented from reaching its normal position in the mouth by tissue, bone, or another tooth. The teeth that most commonly become impacted are the wisdom teeth. These are the last to develop when the jaws have stopped growing and may be too small to accommodate these four additional teeth.

5) Fractured tooth:

When there is a fracture in the crown of the tooth we can see that whenever we chew due to the masticatory forces we get pain, the fracture may be due to an accident, or bitting on hard substance etc.

6) Irritated tooth nerve

The tooth pain is caused when the bullet proof enamel is lost causing exposure the dentin and the tiny nerve endings. Temperature changes like cold and hot or changes like sweet and sour foods cause the fluid in the tubules to move. This fluid movement tugs on the tiny nerves causing sensitivity and pain.

7) Abscess

Represents another cause of toothache. A dental abscess is an infection of the mouth, face, or throat that begins as a tooth infection or cavity. Bacteria can extend into the gums, the cheek, the throat, beneath the tongue, or even into the jaw or facial bones. A dental abscess can become very painful when tissues become inflamed.

8) Decrease in salivation:

This is a cause which many dont consider, the decrease in the salivary flow leads to many other diseases which indirectly lead to invasion by microorganisms which lead to many conditions which cause toothache.

9) Gum diseases

Periodontal (gum) diseases are serious infections that, left untreated, can cause toothache and tooth loss. Gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It can affect one tooth or many teeth and usually begins when the bacteria in plaque causes the gums to become inflamed. Gum diseases also can expose tooth roots making them more sensitive to hot and cold foods, causing toothache.


  1. the crowns beside my gums are so painful, it takes almost weeks and didnt get heal yet, i tried already astring o sol germ killing action but the pain still remains, please help me how to stop this pain. I dnt knw what to do.

  2. Hi sam,
    The data is insufficient to come to a conclusion on what exactly the cause of toothache is, if it has been for weeks you better show it to a dentist before it worsens and may lead to toothloss.

  3. This is informative. Toothache is very common specially in children. it’s a manifestation of poor oral hygiene. if the pain persists, visit a dentist for a comprehensive check up and professional dental cleaning.

  4. i came across this because i was doing a search on “top 10 worst pains people can suffer.” now i know giving birth is the hardest, thank you god for making me a male lol, but tooth pain in my mind has to be the worst. im 27 and rarely have had teeth problems, ive never really ever visisted a dentist ever, well 3 times now, 2 times for root canals 1 time for wisdom teeth extraction. however last year i was struck down with my wisdom teeth hurting like hell, both on the right side up and down. ive felt many pains in life, ive dealt with so many ear/sinus/lung infections its ridiculous, however when my teeth acted up they had a 27 yr old man in the fetus position just crying from agony. now i’ve learned my lesson, the slightest wrong feeling in my mouth and im in the dentists office instantly, unless i have some antibiotics to help treat whatever issue i have going in there.. sam i highly suggest, if your tooth still hurts 3 days after it starts, especially if your treating it with antibiotics and such, and it still hurts then you really really need to see a dentist. i hate them im scared crapless of the dentist office and dont know if i can ever go through a tooth extraction ever again lol, not that it hurts coming out, its just the crunching sound of it ripping out that just gives me chills. like i said growing up i never really saw a dentist, didnt care bout brushing my teeth 3 times a day or using floss. after i spent a night crying like a little baby at the age of 27 cuz of tooth pain i learned my lesson… chompers are important! take good care of em no matter how annoying the routine is, cuz when they start getting bad then so does life, cuz the pain wont cease.

  5. An insightful and articulate post! I found your blog on Google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google Reader. Keep up the good work! Really nice post. Very good points. I hope plenty of people see it. So far this is an incredible resource for information and Ive spent a ton of time reading. Look forward to hearing from you! -Shane

  6. had 4 extractions this past year and dentist has told me to visit my doctor for a check up.am alarmed as i am always tired this past year.

  7. help!! in agony, second day on antibiotics and still in horrible pain. have rotten cracked tooth in the back of mouth. couldn’t tell though cause the pain is all on that side, even my ear hurts.

  8. hi i have pain in tooth/gum in lower jaw .The dentist dont know the reason.But her dentist wife said that my gums may have some infection .He presribed me some medication and oral gel for 3 days but i dont have a relief .The tooth where pain is severe looks fine from outside except gum recession .what to do ?

  9. If you have pain there can be many reasons as mentioned in the Post, but you are saying your dentists has prescribed medication and did he tell you the reason and did he/she take an Xray of the affected tooth ???
    Secondly we can come to a conclusion only after clinical examination/photo and a radiograph

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