What are the most common causes of toothache?

Toothache is characterized by pain in and around your teeth and gums. It can be pretty disrupting and painful to deal with it in your daily routine. Sometimes it becomes tough to find out the source of toothache. But having a better understanding of the symptoms and recognizing the cause behind your toothache is essential to deal with it better.

But why is a toothache so painful?

The pulp inside your tooth comprises soft tissue containing nerves, blood vessels, macrophages, and tissues. These nerves in the pulp are sensitive and highly vascularized. When these nerves get irritated or get infected, they cause pain.


Here are some of the most common causes of toothache.

Like all other dental issues, it is always good to consult a dental professional before deciding on the diagnosis or treatment of your toothache.

Cavities or tooth decay: A dental cavity is one of the most common causes of your toothache. It is mainly caused by inadequate oral hygiene, which causes a tiny cavity/decay in your tooth that will grow deep and extensive with time. Cavities are also formed when saliva in your mouth mix with sugary foods. Initially, cavities are very hard to notice, for which they can't be caught earlier, thereby enhancing the chance of developing a toothache. Go for regular dental visits on time to detect cavities in the early stage. When cavities are left untreated, they will infect the tooth's pulp and can even lead to tooth loss.

Abscessed tooth: An abscessed tooth means an infection within your tooth, mainly in the pulp chamber that reaches the root tip or around the root. This results in

  • An infection in the root
  • Swollen gum
  • Pain
  • Loss of bone at the infection site
  • Sinus formation with pus discharge


An abscess also occurs when the cavity reaches the pulp chamber or a dental treatment such as a crown close to the chamber results in tooth trauma. If you are noticing any of the following symptoms below, then there is a high chance you have an infected pulp or abscessed tooth. Some more symptoms include:

  • Swelling in gums
  • Gum redness 
  • Pain when the affected tooth is pressed
  • Aching pain does not show any improvement even after using pain medications.

Gum diseases: At the age of 25 to 35yrs or above, most of us suffer from gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the most common, while some people suffer from a severe gum disease known as periodontitis. Gum disease is mainly caused by bad dental hygiene and plaque buildup. With time bacteria causes your gums to swell, causing red and bleeding. While many people who suffer from Gingivitis do not feel any discomfort, it leads to tooth loss when left untreated. If you think you have Gingivitis or periodontitis, consult a dentist and take good care of your teeth to avoid further complications.


Tooth injury or tooth trauma: It is the most common cause of toothache or damage that results from a broken tooth or knocked-out tooth. When this happens to you, it's best to fix an appointment with the dentist as quickly as possible so that the same tooth can be replanted within 1hrs of the trauma to save from tooth loss.


Wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth can cause pain in your upper back and bottom molar parts; if the pain persists for a more extended period, then it's time to remove them. Not removing them can result in significant pain. The pain also arises when your wisdom teeth continue to grow and become misaligned or grow sideways. When this happens, they pressure the nerves, bones, and surrounding teeth. Your wisdom teeth are also affected when trapped between the neighboring teeth and the jaw bone. With time it causes more discomfort and several other side effects like foul breath, bad taste, swelling, and redness. When left untreated for a long time, it leads to cysts and tumors. Make sure to fix an appointment with your dentist to remove wisdom teeth.


Teeth grinding: Night grinding, or bruxism, causes teeth grinding due to stress or improperly aligned teeth, or improper occlusion also causes toothache. You might develop tooth pain associated with the temporomandibular joint, which hinges the lower jaw to the skull allowing you to eat and talk. When you are clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth, you are destroying the teeth and putting much stress on the jaw muscles, leading to tooth pain. In such cases, the dentist recommends an occlusion or TMJ splint to reposition the lower jaw.


While there can be several reasons that cause toothache, the best part is you can prevent them altogether. Practice best oral hygiene, avoid bad habits such as tobacco chewing, nail-biting, beetle nuts, bottle opening, and attend regular dental visits. If you or your loved one suffers from a toothache, you can consult a good dentist from MyDentalPlan. It is one of India’s Largest Dental Network platforms that provides online and offline consultation with nominal charges. It's time to seek professional help from an efficient dentist.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.


  • how to stop toothpain
  • tooth pain relief
  • common causes of toothache
  • unbearable toothache
  • why do we get toothache?