A toothache is pain that is felt in the mouth or jaw from a problem
with one or more teeth or the gums. Sensitivity or pain typically moves along
the nerves in the center of the tooth, known as the pulp.
A toothache may be caused by:
Dental decay. Bacteria and other organisms,
often present in plaque that forms on the teeth, can result in tooth decay.
Pain from decay may not develop until the late stages.
around the tooth.
An impacted tooth. A tooth that does not break
through the skin can cause pain and gum inflammation.
Receding gums or unhealthy gums can lead to pain in and around the
An injury to the pulp. Extreme sensitivity to temperatures
or sweet or sour tastes can occur when the pulp has been injured or exposed by
wear or the loss of a filling.
Although it is not as common, a toothache can be caused by a
problem not related to the teeth, such as a sinus infection, shingles, or
A toothache should be evaluated by a dentist right away to
determine the cause of the problem and prevent the tooth from dying.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.