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.
- Infection around the tooth.
- An impacted tooth. A tooth that does not break through the skin can cause pain and gum inflammation.
- Gum disease. Receding gums or unhealthy gums can lead to pain in and around the teeth.
- 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 cluster headaches.
A toothache should be evaluated by a dentist right away to determine the cause of the problem and prevent the tooth from dying.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine|
|Last Revised||November 4, 2010|