9 Common Causes of Toothaches

9 Common Causes of Toothaches

No matter how smoothly past visits have gone, many individuals still want to avoid a trip to their dentist’s office. But should a toothache arise, only a dentist can get to the root of the issue.

Toothaches run the gamut from mild to throbbing to unbearably painful. Toothaches may be temporary, but many persist for some time. Here’s a look at nine reasons for toothaches.

Orthodontic appliances

A common cause of discomfort, orthodontic devices can cause toothaches. The pain is most noticeable immediately after an adjustment, but it may ease as the mouth grows accustomed to the wires or pressure.

Tooth sensitivity

Despite being hard, teeth actually are porous. Certain conditions may cause the enamel on the outside of teeth to wear away. Exposure of the inner layer of the tooth, called dentin, to the air or foods and beverages may result in pain.

Sinus congestion

Sometimes teeth aren’t to blame for mouth pain. Pain that persists in the upper teeth only on both sides of the face may occur due to sinusitis. It often is preceded by nasal congestion.


Temporomandibular disorders can cause tooth pain. TMJ may result from injury or trauma to the jaw. Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause tooth pain.

Impacted wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are a dental milestone that takes place between the ages of 17 and 21. Wisdom teeth actually are third molars, and are given the name because they come in at a mature age, according to the American Dental Association. If there isn’t enough space for them, wisdom teeth can cause crowding and pain. When molars do not fully erupt, the result is impacted wisdom teeth, which can be very painful.

Damaged fillings or dental sealants

When fillings or sealants come out, vulnerable parts of the teeth become exposed. This can result in pain.

Tooth damage

Dental caries, or cavities, can cause toothache, as can tooth abscesses and tooth fractures.

Gum disease

Gum disease may start with mild inflammation and then become more severe if it is left untreated. The inflammation also may affect the ligament that attaches teeth to the socket in the jaw. This ligament has many nerve fibers. When inflamed, the nerves can get fired up and cause pain.


A kernel of popcorn wedged between teeth or a sharp piece of pizza crust that gets lodged behind a molar can cause pain if not addressed.

Toothaches occur for a variety of reasons. Figuring out the cause can lead to effective relief.


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