Toothache

Toothache Summary
Toothache usually refers to pain around the teeth or jaws. In most instances, toothaches are caused by tooth or jaw problems, such as a dental cavity, a cracked tooth, an exposed tooth root, gum disease, disease of the jaw joint (TMJ), or spasms of the muscles used for chewing. A toothache can also be caused by a problem that does not originate from a tooth or the jaw, like diseases of the heart (angina or heart attack), ear infections, and sinus infections. A thorough oral examination, which includes dental X-rays, can help determine the cause.
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Toothache facts

  • The most common cause of a toothache is a dental cavity.
  • The second most common cause of toothache is gum disease.
  • A toothache can be caused by a problem that does not originate from a tooth or the jaw.
  • During pregnancy, the ideal time for non-emergency dental treatment is during the second trimester or if possible, after delivery.
  • Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil) can be effective pain relief when taken on a schedule.

What is a toothache?

A toothache refers to pain around the teeth or jaws primarily as a result of a dental condition. In most instances, toothaches are caused by tooth problems, such as a dental cavity, a cracked tooth, an exposed tooth root, or gum disease. However, disorders of the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) can also cause pain that is referred to as "toothache." Moreover, sinus infection can mimic a toothache.

The severity of a toothache can range from chronic and mild to sharp and excruciating. The pain may be aggravated by chewing or temperature (cold or heat). A thorough oral examination, which includes dental X-rays, can help determine the cause of the pain and whether it is coming from a tooth or other non-dental problem.

What are dental causes of toothaches and how are they treated?

Common dental causes of toothaches include dental cavities, dental abscess, gum disease, irritation of the tooth root, cracked tooth syndrome, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, impaction, and eruption.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/11/2013

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