What Could Be Causing Your Tooth Pain?

Unlike other health issues, pain in your tooth or toothache as some may call it, doesn’t have just one cause. It is an ambiguous sign that could mean a wide range of dental problems. Let’s take a look at what could be some of the reasons you are experiencing pain in your tooth.

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1. You have a cavity

Cavities are one of the most common reasons for tooth pain. They can be sneaky and cause minimal pain or discomfort until they have reached the point of no return. A cavity is a visual sign that bacteria and plaque have created a mini hole in your tooth. The pain you feel is because the decay is reaching deeper levels of your tooth. While OTC pain meds can help manage things until you visit your dentist, the only way to permanently resolve the issue is a trip to the dentist for treatment.

2. You have an abscess

Some people may think that an abscess and a cavity are similar. While both can cause tooth pain, they are quite different. A cavity can trigger an abscess, however, so keep that in mind. An abscess is a pocket of pus formed either in the root or elsewhere around the tooth. Bacteria, most often, is the culprit. The pain from this can be moderate to severe and even radiate throughout the head and neck area. Severe abscesses may lead to an emergency room visit to help manage the pain and infection. The only way to permanently resolve the issue is to have the abscess drained.

3. You are suffering from gingivitis

Just like a cavity, gingivitis is very sneaky. You may see a bit of blood while brushing your teeth, but you shrug it off, thinking you were too vigorous with your toothbrush. It is possible to have some bleeding if that happens, but seeing your gums bleed isn’t something that should be commonplace. If you notice bleeding gums, it’s time to come for a dental visit. Uncontrolled gingivitis can lead to tooth pain and periodontal disease.

4. Some of your dental work has come out or is loose

Somehow we have convinced ourselves that completed dental work lasts forever and never has any issues. While this would be nice, it is a fallacy. If you get hit in the mouth or bite down on something too hard, you can dislodge your dental work, like a filling, crown, or bridge. This can cause pain as the device dislodges, pain when you try to eat or drink without the device, or both. Make an appointment to visit your dentist as soon as you can to get a replacement.

5. You just had dental work done

There is a myth that once you have dental work done to take care of an issue with your tooth, you will be pain-free once the Novocain wears off. This would be nice, but not always true. Even a procedure like a routine teeth cleaning can leave you feeling sore. A person will feel discomfort for a couple of days depending upon the procedure. The discomfort shouldn’t last very long, and OTC pain meds should take care of.

6. You are clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep

A problem like this won’t affect just one tooth. This you will feel in every tooth you have. There are many reasons a person can clench or grind their teeth. Anything from stress to TMJ could trigger these behaviors. But if you are noticing aches in all your teeth, visit your dentist for treatment. Something as simple as a mouthguard could relieve your issues, especially if you are doing these things in your sleep.

7. You have something stuck in between your tooth or gum

Almost any food could cause this, but popcorn is notorious for getting stuck between teeth or gums. To be so small, it can cause massive amounts of pain if it gets lodged in your mouth. Try to gently massage the piece out with your brush or dental floss. If it is wedged deep into your gums, use an OTC pain med to help you out until you can see your dentist.


As you can see, the reasons your tooth may hurt vary widely. And this article doesn’t even cover all of them. The best way to stay on top of things is to keep up with your dental visits to prevent avoidable pain in your teeth.