What is a toothache?

A toothache is a pain in or around a tooth. Minor toothaches can come from a temporary gum irritation that you can treat at home. More serious toothaches are caused by dental and mouth problems that won’t get better on their own and will need to be treated by a dentist.

Why is my toothache so painful?

The pulp inside your tooth is soft material filled with nerves, tissues and blood vessels. These pulp nerves are among the most sensitive in your body. When these nerves are irritated or infected by bacteria (abscess), they can cause severe pain.

What are possible causes of toothache?

Toothaches can be caused by:

  • Tooth decay.
  • Abscessed tooth (a bacterial infection inside the center of the tooth).
  • Tooth fracture (broken tooth).
  • A damaged filling.
  • Repetitive motions, such as chewing gum or grinding or clenching teeth. These motions can wear down your teeth.
  • Infected gums.
  • Eruption (teeth coming out of the gums) or removal of a tooth (for example, wisdom teeth).

What are symptoms of toothache?

  • Tooth pain that may be sharp, throbbing, or constant. In some people, pain results only when pressure is applied to the tooth (biting down on something).
  • Swelling around the tooth.
  • Fever or headache.
  • Foul-tasting drainage from the infected tooth.
  • A bad odor from the mouth.

If you experience trouble breathing and swallowing along with your pain, call a dental professional right away.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/23/2020.

References

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