Top 8 Reasons Why You Have a Toothache and How to Treat It

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Whether severe or mild, toothaches are a common disturbance that usually signals a problem related to our dental health. A toothache indicates that your tooth decay has advanced to the tooth’s root. At this stage, toothaches can cause unbearable pain.

This blog post will examine why we get toothache pains and what can be done about them.

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Common Reasons for Toothache

It is never a good day when we start with an aching tooth that makes it hard to move on peacefully with our lives.

Toothaches can be so stressful that ignoring them and trying to go on with our daily routines can be challenging.

Toothache is usually a sign of an already existing health problem, sometimes causing us to search for definite fixes.

Several factors might give you a toothache. Some such factors include:

  • Infected gums.
  • Tooth extraction (of impacted wisdom teeth can be given as an example) and wisdom tooth formation.
  • Tooth decay.
  • Broken (fractured) tooth.
  • Abscessed tooth.
  • Motions that can wear out one’s teeth (like chewing gum, grinding, or clenching teeth).
  • Damaged dental fillings.

Gum Disease (Gingivitis)

According to an article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, infected gums can be seen in more than one-third of the population of the United States.

In addition to gingivitis, there are more severe cases of a dental disease known as “periodontitis.”

Gingivitis occurs when one doesn’t take the time to care for dental health. In this case, teeth can accumulate plaque, gradually creating more distress.

In addition, built-up bacteria may cause redness, swelling, and bleeding in the mouth, and it may even become the reason for the patient to lose their tooth/teeth.

When gingivitis is suspected, it’s best to see a dentist for treatment before things worsen.

Meanwhile, flossing daily and brushing the teeth twice daily will significantly improve dental health.

Getting a Tooth Removed

One of the biggest reasons one can have a toothache is having just undergone a tooth extraction, which might be the most apparent reason, but it is worth mentioning.

The good news is that pain in the tooth shouldn’t last long, as the procedure is a step towards solving a dental issue for good.

Depending on why a tooth is removed, it’s best to consult a dental care provider if the pain persists.

Developing a Wisdom Tooth

A wisdom tooth may develop between the late teens and 20s when most dental structures are already set.

A wisdom tooth breaks through the gums at the back of the mouth after the last set of teeth in the already-formed upper and lower line—this can be hard to endure, as there might not be space in the mouth to host the extra erupting teeth.

A process in which the tooth cracks and breaks through a rigid and meaty substance like the gum, causing inflammation, swelling, and bleeding.

A wisdom tooth isn’t vital for your health, and its absence won’t lower one’s quality of life.

Therefore, your doctor may recommend getting them removed, especially if they grow crooked and become impacted.

Tooth Decay

This is the biggest and most common reason for a toothache.

Severe dental pain can be a significant sign of decay reaching the inner layers of the teeth, known as dentin.

Teeth becoming highly sensitive can signify that the deterioration is so severe that it has damaged the dentin—this will require the immediate attention of a dentist.

Broken Tooth

Another significant reason for having toothache is broken teeth; it is best to consult a dentist immediately to get the tooth repaired.

Abscessed Tooth

A tooth becomes abscessed when infected within, also known as the “pulp chamber.”

The infection reaches the root tip or root edge of an abscessed tooth. The issue may result in the following:

  • Unendurable pain.
  • Infected root.
  • Swelling in the gums.
  • Bone loss.

Abscesses may occur when a cavity becomes so deep that it reaches the pulp chamber after dental treatments, such as placing a crown too close to the chamber or from grinding trauma.

Symptoms listed below may indicate that one has an abscessed tooth and should schedule a dentist appointment immediately:

  • Gums become red or darker.
  • Gum swelling.
  • Pain when applying pressure to the affected tooth.
  • Persistent throbbing, immune to pain relief methods.
7 factors might give you a toothache

Teeth Grinding

Some people might assume that the only cause of toothache might be poor dental hygiene, but it’s not.

Another cause of toothache is the bad habit of teeth grinding, also known as bruxism.

Those who grind their teeth develop dental pain from their temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

This joint keeps the lower jaw intact with the skull, allowing us to eat and talk.

Clenching the jaw or grinding teeth causes deterioration of teeth.

These habits also become the reason for extra stress on the jaw muscles, which causes tooth pain or even TMD or TMJ disorder.

Damaged Dental Fillings

We must get help from professionals capable of practicing what they were trained for. So, when sloppy dental work is done, it is possible to experience dental fillings problems.

Asymmetrical, faulty, or loose dental fillings can lead to breaking and misplacement in the mouth and can cause toothache.

Patients who don’t follow instructions given by their dentists post-procedure may also have damaged dental fillings. Therefore, before needing to go through more advanced treatments like root canal therapy, it’s best to follow the tips below to avoid putting excess pressure on freshly done dental fillings, thus erasing any progress:

Avoid consuming food that needs to be chewed (chewing will put pressure on the dental fillings).

Avoid exposing the dental fillings to very hot or cold substances (that may shock and disfigure the filling substance).

While there certainly can be other reasons to have a toothache, the most common are listed above.

If the aching is severe and hard to endure, it’s always best to consult a dentist immediately.

Top Tips for Emergency Toothache Relief

If a toothache causes a lot of pain and a dentist isn’t available to see the patient immediately, some tips to relieve pain can be handy to make things bearable until the appointment.

Here are our top recommendations to try at home:

Over-The-Counter Pain Medication

Medicine cabinets might be the best place when searching for toothache medicine, a.k.a. any medication that will relieve toothache and inflammation.

When medication is used for toothache treatment, mild pain relievers that fall into the category of NSAIDs are the ones that are advised to be taken. The best painkillers for toothache are:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen (Aleve)

If there is no improvement after two to three days, getting professional help from a dentist would be advisable.

Cold Compresses

An ice pack is a no-cost option to treat swelling caused by an infected tooth. Easy to prepare and use, ice packs, when used as a compress, can provide incredible relief from tooth pain.

Wrapping the ice bag with a towel will help prevent skin from ice burn. Press the bag on the painful area for around 15 minutes. Repeating the application once every half to a full hour during the day can be helpful.

You can also use this method to soothe toothache at night before going to bed.

Salt Water Rinse

Another tip for emergency relief is salt water.

Mixing some salt with warm water and using it as a rinse whenever needed will help kill bacteria and reduce swelling.

Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water can also provide instant relief from toothaches.

Clove Oil

Used especially after tooth removal to soothe gums with its ingredient “eugenol,” clove essential oil has been one of the top choices of dentists and medical practitioners for years. It can be bought from drug stores and health shops when not found at home.

Alternatively, a clove paste can also be used as a soothing ointment instead of its oil. Applying the paste to the aching tooth or biting a teabag filled with this paste will help treat the toothache.

Peppermint Tea Bags

With its compound “menthol,” peppermint can be antibacterial. All that is needed is to add one teaspoon to a pot of boiling water and let it rest for around 20 minutes.

The tea can be used as a rinse once cooled. Alternatively, you can hold peppermint bags (tea) against the painful area to ease the pain.

Peppermint oil is also an effective toothache remedy for emergency dental relief treatment.

Putting a few drops onto a cotton ball and placing it onto the aching tooth can provide temporary relief before seeing a dentist.


Garlic is a superfood with antibacterial properties, containing a powerful compound called allicin.

If the smell isn’t an issue, crushing a clove of garlic and mixing it with salt, then applying it to the infected area, can help kill the bacteria and relieve pain.

How to Prevent Toothaches

Taking good care of one’s dental health, in general, is common sense to avoid toothaches. To keep our teeth and gums in optimal health, here are things to do:

  • Brushing our teeth for around 2 minutes twice daily.
  • Getting regular dental check-ups.
  • Consuming less sugary foods and drinks (as an excess of sugar consumption can cause teeth to decay).
  • Flossing to prevent food, debris, or plaque buildup.

Does a Toothache Go Away Without Treatment?

Depending on the condition and severity, a toothache can go away without treatment. It’s also best to avoid applying pressure on that area for a few days.

When to See a Dentist for a Toothache?

If the toothache hasn’t subsided on its own after a few days, or if more significant pain, severe bleeding, inflammation, and swelling occurs, it’s best to consult a dentist.

Although some might be useful, at-home remedies are not a cure. When all promising treatment methods fail, seeing a dentist will become necessary.

Contact DrAlexa

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With Doctor Alexa, you get access to healthcare services from licensed healthcare professionals remotely.

We provide excellent online healthcare consultation and treatment at the most affordable costs. To learn more about oral health and health conditions, contact us at DoctorAlexa now.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.