A toothache is pain or inflammation in your tooth, usually due to decay or an infection. While most people will experience a mild toothache at some point in their lives, a severe toothache may require immediate attention from your dentist.

Toothaches may occur out of the blue, but generally, there is an underlying issue that has been growing over time. While the hole of a cavity may be one of the more obvious warning signs for toothaches, they're not the only thing that can give it away.

Symptoms of a toothache

Toothache pain can be mild or severe, and can be constant or intermittent. You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sharp, dull or throbbing pain felt in or around the tooth
  • Pain when chewing or putting pressure on the tooth
  • Swollen or sore gums around the tooth
  • Headaches
  • High fevers
  • Bleeding gums
  • Foul tasting drainage from the tooth

Causes of a toothache

Tooth decay is the most common reason for toothaches however, it may be an issue related to your gums or jaw. Some common causes of toothaches are:

  • Tooth decay or an abscess
  • A broken or fractured tooth
  • Swollen or inflamed gums (due to impacted food or gum disease)
  • Hypersensitivity to food or drink that is cold, sweet, or sticky
  • The normal growth of new teeth in children

Sometimes, a toothache can also be referred pain from a problem in another part of your body. Toothache can be a side effect of sinusitis, as the roots of your upper teeth are close to the infected sinuses.

What to do if you have a toothache

Toothaches aren't usually life-threatening, but in some cases, they can be signs of serious conditions that require urgent medical treatment. Proper identification and treatment of dental infections is important to avoid it spreading to other parts of the jaw, face, and possibly even to the bloodstream. Until you can see your NDC dentist, be sure to keep your mouth clean and free of food. You can rinse your mouth with warm water and gently brush and floss. If the pain is severe, take an over-the-counter pain killer that is safe for you. If there is swelling, you can use a cold compress or a wrapped bag of ice on the affected area.

Book an appointment to see a dentist as soon as possible if you have:

  • Pain that lasts longer than a day or two
  • Pain that's severe or starts to become unbearable
  • A fever, earache, or pain when you open your mouth wide



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