What causes toothache and how to get relief?

Experiencing a toothache is never pleasant, especially when you don’t know what could be causing it. Toothaches normally start out as a dull, throbbing pain and could be a symptom of an underlying issue which will need to be addressed by your dentist. In this article, we will be providing a brief overview of toothache and the treatment options available to you.

What is a toothache?

Toothaches and jaw pain are two of the more common complaints dentists hear about, and it refers to any pain felt in or around the tooth.  Some people are under the impression that it is normal to experience a minor toothache every now and then, but this is not correct. Healthy teeth and gums should not hurt, and if you do experience pain in or around your teeth this could be due to the following:

  • Injury (a sudden blow to the face can knock teeth out of place or result in chips and cracks, which can expose the pulp and potentially lead to infection)
  • Tooth decay (the bacteria in plaque harm the protective layer of enamel, exposing sensitive nerve endings within the dentine)
  • Gum disease
  • Post-extraction pain
  • Dental abscess
  • Biting too hard or a habit of teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Food particles stuck between teeth or braces
  • Flossing


Toothaches are not always caused by underlying disease, but it is still important to visit your dentist for a thorough examination.

Symptoms of Toothache

Toothaches can vary in severity from mild to severe, and most people also experience swelling. Swelling in the mouth is a sign of infection, and you should not delay seeking an appointment with your dentist.

You may also experience a sharp throbbing sensation (constant or intermittent), have a fever, bad breath, pain which worsens when brushing teeth or consuming a meal, or experience tooth sensitivity.

It is rare for a toothache to subside on its own and delaying treatment may cause your condition to worsen, placing your oral and general health at significant risk. It is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, you can help to ease the discomfort by gargling salt water, which will help to reduce swelling and aid in the removal of bacteria from the mouth. Over the counter pain relief such as Panadol may also be used.

Treatment of Toothache

If you are experiencing toothache then it’s important to book an appointment with your dentist who will be able to perform a thorough examination of your mouth to determine the cause of your pain. X-Rays may need to be taken as part of this procedure. An appropriate treatment will then be proposed, which may include:

  • Root canal therapy (tooth decay and cavities)
  • Fillings (tooth decay and cavities)
  • Dental Crowns (especially in cases of damaged teeth)
  • Gum treatment
  • Custom splint (for cases of toothache linked to tooth grinding)
  • Antibiotics and pain medication


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