ToothachesPain - tooth or teeth
A toothache is pain in or around a tooth.
A toothache is often the result of dental cavities (tooth decay) or an infection or irritation of the tooth. Tooth decay is often caused by poor dental hygiene. It may also be partly inherited. In some cases, toothache may be caused due to grinding teeth or other dental trauma.
Dental cavities are holes (or structural damage) in the teeth.
Tooth decay and gum disease are caused by plaque, a sticky combination of bacteria and food. Plaque begins to build up on teeth within a few minutes...
Sometimes, pain that is felt in the tooth is actually due to pain in other parts of the body. This is called referred pain. For example, an earache may sometimes cause tooth pain.
A toothache may occur because of:
- Abscessed tooth
- Injury to the jaw or mouth
Heart attack (can include jaw pain, neck pain, or toothache)
Most heart attacks are caused by a blood clot that blocks one of the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries bring blood and oxygen to the heart. ...Read Article Now Book Mark Article
- Sinus infection
- Tooth decay
- Tooth trauma such as wear, injury, or fracture
You can use over-the-counter pain medicine if you can't see your dentist or primary health care provider right away.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers can help relieve pain or lower a fever. Over-the-counter means you can buy these medicines without a prescript...
Your dentist will first diagnose the source of the pain and recommend treatment. You may be prescribed antibiotics, pain medicines, or other drugs.
Use good oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay. A low-sugar diet is recommended along with regular flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and regular professional cleaning. Sealants and fluoride applications by the dentist are important for preventing tooth decay. Also, tell your dentist if you think you might grind your teeth.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Seek medical care if:
- You have a severe toothache
- You have a toothache that lasts longer than a day or two
- You have fever, earache, or pain when opening your mouth wide
Note: The dentist is an appropriate person to see for most causes of toothaches. However, if the problem is referred pain from another location, you may need to see your primary provider.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your dentist will examine your mouth, teeth, gums, tongue, throat, ears, nose, and neck. You may need dental x-rays. Your dentist may recommend other tests, depending on the suspected cause.
Dental x-rays are a type of image of the teeth and mouth. X-rays are a form of high energy electromagnetic radiation. The x-rays penetrate the body...
Your dentist will ask questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- When did the pain start?
- Where is the pain located, and how bad is it?
- Does the pain wake you up at night?
- Are there things that make the pain worse or better?
- What medicines are you taking?
- Do you have any other symptoms, such as fever?
- Have you had any injuries?
- When was your last dental checkup?
Treatment will depend on the source of the pain. They may include removing and filling cavities, root canal therapy, or extraction of the tooth. If the toothache is related to trauma, such as grinding, your dentist may recommend a special appliance to protect the teeth from wear.
Benko KR. Emergency dental procedures. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 64.
Mehta NR, Scrivani SJ, Spierings ELH. Dental and facial pain. In: Benzon, HT, Rathmell JP, Wu CL, Turk DC, Argoff CE, Hurley RW, eds. Practical Management of Pain. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 31.
Travers JB, Travers SP, Christian JM. Physiology of the oral cavity. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund V, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 88.
Tooth anatomy - illustration
The appearance of normal teeth varies, especially the molars. Abnormally shaped teeth can result from many different conditions. Specific diseases can have a profound effect on tooth shape, tooth color, time of appearance, or absence of teeth.
Review Date: 2/5/2018
Reviewed By: Ilona Fotek, DMD, MS, Dental Healing Arts, Jupiter, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.