Why Do My Teeth Hurt And What’s Causing Me 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 dental pain in your tooth.

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What are symptoms of toothache?

If your pain is accompanied by difficulty swallowing and breathing, it may be a good idea to call a dentist to get proper treatment and to relieve pain.

  • The pain may vary from a dull ache to an intense throbbing. The pain may worsen when chewing, biting down on something, or applied pressure.
  • Cracked teeth
  • Headache or Fever
  • Foul-tasting drainage from a infected tooth
  • Redness and swelling around the tooth
  • Foul odor from the mouth
  • Fractured tooth or damaged tooth
  • Jaw pain
  • Sensitive teeth

1. You have a cavity

If you’re experiencing sharp pain, one of the most common reasons is a dental cavity. Cavities are a visual sign that bacteria and plaque have created a mini hole in your tooth. The pain you feel is due to tooth decay reaching deeper into the tooth. While OTC pain meds can help manage things until you visit your dentist, a trip to the dentist for treatment is the only way to resolve the issue permanently.

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, an abscess is a bacterial infection formed either in the root or elsewhere around the tooth. The pain from this can be moderate to severe pain, and can 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. There are three types of tooth infections that can cause an abscessed tooth.

  • Gingival – This infection of the gum tissue can affect people of all ages. It is not uncommon, but it is mostly preventable. It does not usually affect the tooth or the bone supporting the tooth.
  • Periapical – An abscess that forms at the tip of the root is called a periapical abscess. This occurs when the bacteria spreads to the innermost part of the tooth called the pulp through a fracture or cavity. When bacteria invades the pulp, it causes the infection to spread to the bone, eventually leading to an abscess. 
  • Periodontal – A periodontal abscess is a painful infection that begins in the bone and soft tissue that support your teeth. These infections can affect one or more teeth and may be more common among adults.

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 bad breath, tooth pain, and periodontal disease also known as gum disease.

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

Although dental work can last a long time with proper oral hygiene, it is possible to damage your teeth or your crown in certain situations. 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 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 medication should take care of it.

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

A problem like this won’t affect just one tooth. When you clench or grind your teeth, you are wearing down the tooth enamel, making your tooth weaker and more susceptible for tooth pain. 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 mouth guard 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.

8. Eating too Many Acidic Foods

If you eat foods that are highly acidic, it can wear away the hard outer layer of the tooth. Example of acidic foods include citrus, soda, coffee, and sugary candy. When your tooth enamel wears away, your teeth become more susceptible to teeth sensitivity or nerve exposure. If you want to prevent yourself from unnecessary tooth pain, eat a more balanced diet to to improve your oral health.

9. Aggressive Brushing

Brushing too hard or vigorously can do a lot of damage and may result in tooth sensitivity. Over time, aggressive brushing wears down the tooth enamel and overlying gum tissue resulting in tooth sensitivity or tooth pain. When the canals that lead to the nerve endings become exposed, it becomes sensitive to acidic, hot, or cold foods. Practicing proper oral hygiene, such as brushing your teeth gently for two minutes, will help keep your teeth healthy.

10. You may have a sinus infection

When your upper back teeth are causing you pain in conjunction with being stuffy, these are both leading indicators that you may have a sinus infection. A sinus infection is an inflammation of the sinus cavities. It can make it difficult to breathe through your nose and can cause discomfort. While viral respiratory infections often cause them, they are also exacerbated by allergic reactions or exposure to irritants like alcohol or cigarette smoke. If your sinus does not get better in a few days, visit your doctor to receive care.

Home Remedies for toothaches

The pain associated with a toothache can be unbearable. In the event that you’re unable to see your dentist right away, try some helpful home remedies until your next appointment.

Cold compress

Ice packs constrict blood vessels, which can help reduce pain. Ice also reduces the swelling and inflammation that is associated with injuries.

Saltwater mouthwash

Saltwater mouthwash helps loosen food that’s gotten trapped between the affected tooth. You can temporarily treat the toothache by mixing a half-teaspoon of salt in warm water, wait for the salt to dissolve, then rinse it around your mouth for at least 30 seconds.

Use a hot pack

If you are experiencing discomfort in your jaw, one way to reduce it is by applying a hot pack to the side of your jaw. If you don’t have a hot pack, you can make one by filling a clean sock with rice and microwaving it for a couple of minutes.


The reasons why your teeth hurt or why you’re experiencing tooth pain vary widely. Ranging from tooth decay, tooth fracture, sensitive teeth, wisdom teeth, abscessed tooth, gum disease, and more. The best way to stay on top of dental concerns is to visit is to keep up with your dental visits to prevent pain in your teeth. When you visit your local dental professional, they will first review your medical history and conduct an oral exam. The dentist will then ask specific questions about your toothache, what makes the pain worse, and see the best course of action to treat your toothache pain.