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Toothache or tooth pain is caused when the nerve to a tooth is irritated. Dental infection, gum disease, plaque, dental decay, injury, or loss of a tooth (including tooth extractions) are the most common causes of dental pain. There are instances, however, where pain originating outside the dental area radiates to the mouth, thus giving the impression of tooth pain. This often happens when there is a problem with the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint or TMJ) or ears. Occasionally, heart problems can give the sensation of tooth pain.
One can prevent the majority of dental problems through flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and having teeth professionally cleaned on a regular schedule. The dentist may apply sealants and fluoride, which are especially important in children.
Causes of Toothaches
Toothaches occur from inflammation of the central portion of the tooth called pulp. The pulp contains nerve endings that are very sensitive to pain. Inflammation to the pulp or pulpitis may be caused by dental cavities, trauma, and infection.
Toothache Symptoms and Signs
Toothache and jaw pain are common complaints. It is not unusual for one to feel mild pain from pressure, and hot or cold exposure to the tooth. However, if the pain is severe and persists for longer than 15 seconds after the pressure or temperature exposure, then this could be an indication of a more serious problem. If there is severe inflammation of the tooth, the pain can radiate to the cheek, the ear, or the jaw. The signs and symptoms that might lead one to seek care include the following:
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2014
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