A toothache is described as an ache, inflammation, or pain in or around a tooth, it can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience. Besides severe or dull pain, the teeth can be sensitive to temperature or pressure while chewing or biting.

What is a Toothache?

Stabbing pain in your teeth is a sign that you might have tooth damage. Cavities can cause toothache. Stabbing tooth pain can also occur if there is an infection in the tooth or the surrounding gums. Toothaches are caused by bacteria or inflammation of the teeth. This is called pulpitis.

The soft pink pulp inside your tooth helps keep it healthy and alive. The dental pulp contains tissue, nerves, and blood vessels.

A cavity or crack in the tooth allows air and germs to enter the tooth. This can irritate and infect the sensitive nerves in the pulp, causing tooth pain.


Tooth pain is caused by problems with the teeth or jaw. Toothache can range from moderately unpleasant to exaggeratingly painful.

Tooth damage

Tooth damage is a common cause of toothache. For example, chipped or broken teeth because of trauma can cause tooth pain. Similarly, a damaged or broken filling, crown, or dental implant can contribute to tooth pain.


Decay is one of the most frequent causes of tooth pain and has many degrees of severity. Cavities are holes in the teeth that penetrate the tooth enamel and underlying dentin and can cause tooth pain. Abscess, which is an infection of the nerve and pulp within the tooth, is a more serious form of dental pain.

Gum Disease

Symptoms of gum disease (periodontal disease) include redness and swelling of the gums, but these symptoms can contribute to tooth pain and gum pain. Gingivitis tooth pain can occur when plaque buildup causes the gums to become red and inflamed. Periodontitis can occur when gingivitis is not treated and the inner layer of the gums separates from the teeth, forming pockets that accumulate food debris and bacteria.

Damaged or Fractured Tooth

A fractured tooth can expose sensitive dentin or even the pulp. Sometimes fractures are not obvious even though the fracture line can penetrate deep into the tooth, causing dental pain whenever pressure put on it when biting or chewing.


Because the roots of the upper molars are very close to the cavities of the maxillary sinus, inflammation of the sinus cavities can make these molars tender and feel like a toothache.

Cluster headache

The exact cause of cluster headaches is unknown, but the pressure of a cluster headache has been associated with tooth pain.

Heart Attack

Pain from a heart attack can radiate to the lower jaw.


If you have diabetes, uncontrolled blood sugar can increase your risk of cavities.

Nerve diseases

A condition called trigeminal neuralgia is associated with sharp pain on one side of the face.


Methamphetamine abuse has been associated with toothache.

Vitamin deficiency

Low vitamin B12 has been associated with tooth pain.


Your dentist will work step by step to assess the source of your tooth pain, beginning with a medical background. Next, your dentist will examine your face and mouth for swelling and tenderness. During the oral exam, your dentist will inspect the inside of your mouth, including the gums for inflammation. He will also inspect your teeth for cavities or signs of infection (eg, swelling at the base of the tooth).

After the physical exam, your dentist may want to take an X-ray of the bothersome tooth to check for abscesses, cavities, or any other hidden problems. The computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) examination reserved for extremely severe and unusual diagnoses, such as Ludwig's angina or cavernous sinus thrombosis.


Treatment of toothache depends on the cause. If the gap produces toothache, the dentist will patch the cavity or remove the tooth. A root canal may be necessary if the cause of the toothache determined to be an infection of the tooth's nerve. Bacteria that have infiltrated the internal parts of the tooth cause this infection. If there is a fever or swelling of the mouth, an antibiotic can be administered.

When to visit a Dentist?

If your toothache is severe or the result of a more serious medical condition, see your dentist so that it can be properly treated. Many toothaches will require medical attention. An over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, may help you until you visit a dentist.

You should also consult a dentist if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • fever
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • general pain lasting more than a day or two
  • swelling
  • pain when biting
  • abnormally red gums
  • bad tasting discharge or pus


You can treat most sore throats at home. Get enough rest to give your immune system a chance to fight infection.

To get relief from sore throat

  • Brush your teeth gently twice a day with a soft-bristle brush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Drink fluoridated water
  • Have regular professional dental cleanings
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner
  • Avoid smoking
  • Eat a balanced and regular diet rich in fruits, vegetables, protein, and fatty fish and minimize the intake of foods or beverages rich in sugar
  • Using a cold compress can help relieve toothache
  • A simple saltwater rinse is a common home remedy for toothaches
  • Drinking peppermint tea or sucking on peppermint tea bags can also help temporarily relieve toothache
  • Garlic is a common household spice some people used to ease toothache

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What kills the nerve in a tooth?

Swishing alcohol, such as bourbon, scotch, vodka, and brandy, can eliminate germs and serve to numb the area surrounding the tooth.

2. How do dentists kill the dental nerve?

A "root canal" is when the dentist removes damaged or dead pulpal nerve tissue from inside the tooth.

3. Does killing a dental nerve hurt?

A tooth that is dead or dying can cause a variable level of pain, from almost nonexistent to extremely painful. The dying nerve or infection usually causes increased pain. Some people wonder why they feel pain if the nerve is dead.

4. Does a throbbing tooth mean infection?

Stabbing pain in your teeth is a sign that you might have tooth damage. Cavities or cavities can cause toothache. Stabbing tooth pain can also occur if there is an infection in the tooth or the surrounding gums. Toothaches are usually caused by bacteria or inflammation of the teeth.

5. How am I supposed to know if I have a dental infection?

Signs and symptoms of a tooth abscess include severe, persistent, stabbing toothache that can radiate to the jaw, neck, or ear. Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Sensitivity to chewing or biting pressure.