What’s Causing Your Toothache?

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What’s Causing Your Toothache?

Nothing ruins a great day like unbearable tooth pain when you sip your morning coffee. There are several causes of a bad toothache, but how can you tell what’s wrong? The Prescott Dentistry team is here to help. If you have a toothache, look out for these culprits to understand why.

Tooth Decay

Cavities are the leading cause of tooth pain because they can expose the nerve endings in your tooth to air and bacteria. Preventing cavities and tooth decay starts with a good oral hygiene routine. Brushing and flossing daily prevent the build-up of plaque on your teeth.

If you have a cavity that causes a bad toothache, you’re not alone. Over 80% of Americans under 30 have had at least one cavity in their life. You can’t always detect a cavity right away, so it’s important to visit the dentist regularly to stop problems like cavities before they get worse.

Abscessed Tooth

When a bacterial infection spreads inside your tooth, it can create a pocket of pus called an abscess. Your dentist may be able to save an abscessed tooth with a root canal procedure, but if the infection is too severe, a tooth extraction may be necessary.

Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include:

  • A severe, throbbing toothache
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Foul breath or a bad taste in the mouth

An abscessed tooth requires immediate attention from your dentist. If left untreated, an abscess can result in serious health complications. If you experience difficulty breathing or fever and swelling in your face, go to the emergency room immediately. 

Gum Disease

Over time, plaque buildup leads to gum disease. Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, does not usually cause tooth pain. However, advanced periodontitis can make your gums recede, exposing the tooth roots and causing pain. Usually, people with gingivitis will experience sensitivity to hot and cold beverages.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is a condition characterized by unconsciously grinding or clenching your teeth. It not only puts your teeth under excessive wear, but it can also strain the joints and muscles in your jaw. As a result, grinding your teeth can lead to tooth and jaw pain associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and lead to a disorder called TMD.

Trauma or Injury

It may seem obvious, but an injury to your teeth can be what causes a toothache. If you recently took a fall or a blow to the mouth or jaw, you might have injured or loosened your teeth. You can prevent some of the most common dental traumas by wearing a mouthguard when you participate in contact sports, and by wearing a seatbelt when you’re riding in a car (even in the back seat). 

Wisdom Teeth

Depending on where your toothache is located, it could mean that it’s time to get your wisdom teeth removed. Pain near your back molars and tenderness or redness in the back of your mouth typically means your wisdom teeth are either impacted or misaligned and causing discomfort.

Outside Sources

The source of your tooth pain may not always be inside your mouth. There are a few other sources of toothaches that you might not think of immediately.

Sinus Infections

An infection can make your sinuses clogged or swollen. These symptoms put pressure on your upper back teeth, causing pain that feels similar to a toothache.


Pain from a migraine affects the upper parts of the head and face. While it is less common, this can also include pain in the middle of the face that feels like it is coming from your teeth.


There are several symptoms associated with pregnancy that can cause toothaches. Hormonal imbalances, morning sickness, and plaque build-up can all cause enamel erosion and tooth decay, resulting in tooth pain.

Toothache Treatment in Prescott

Integrity, accountability, quality, and compassionate service are the four tenets that define our mission at Prescott Dentistry. We know what causes a bad toothache and can provide the relief you need. Our expert team will identify and treat the source of your pain so that you can smile again. If you are experiencing unbearable tooth pain, call us right away at 928-445-1660 or contact us online for an urgent appointment.


Photo by Jan Kopřiva on Unsplash