Things That Can Cause Toothaches

Woman holding jaw in pain

Persistent tooth pain can have a wide range of causes. Toothaches depend entirely on the source of the pain, and only your dentists will be able to determine what proper treatment is needed. From mild throbbing to unbearable pain, pain in your teeth requires prompt dental care. Here are some common reasons for toothaches and how dentists treat them.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, also called cavities, destroys the tooth enamel that protects the pulp and nerves in the tooth from bacteria. Dentists recommend brushing teeth to remove plaque build-up, a sticky substance filled with bacteria that forms around the enamel of the teeth. If left there for long periods of time, the plaque will begin to dissolve the enamel slowly. Eventually, holes in the enamel will expose the dentin and pulp inside the tooth, causing it to feel sore and sensitive. To relieve the pain, dentists will need to clean out the cavity with a drill and fill it with composite resin.


Abscesses occur when bacteria build up inside the tooth’s pulp chamber. This pocket of pus will drain out of the tip of the tooth, leading to pain, swelling, and pressure that radiates from the tooth all the way to the ear and neck. Abscesses are often treated with antibiotics, but depending on the severity of the abscess, your dentists may have to cut and drain it. If left untreated, abscesses can lead to severe, life-threatening conditions. The infection can be spread throughout the body and even lead to sepsis.

Cracked Toothache

While tooth enamel is known as the hardest substance in the body, teeth, when impacted with high amounts of pressure, can crack. If the tooth does crack, intense amounts of pain can occur and lead to sensitivity to hot and cold foods. Even if the crack isn’t visible, the crack will cause this pain, especially if it’s near the root of the tooth. Depending on the severity of the crack, your dentists will have a wide range of treatments, such as fillings and root canals.

Gum Disease

Both gingivitis and periodontal disease, two types of gum disease, can cause toothaches. Gum disease occurs when a patient has improper dental hygiene, causing bacteria to form and make the gums swollen, tender, and bleed easily. If left untreated, the infection can leave the tooth exposed to the bacteria and cause it to infect the roots. Gingivitis can be treated with conscientious brushing, flossing, and antibiotics, but only in its early stages. When loose pockets form in the gums in severe cases, surgery may be required to fit the gums back to the teeth.

If you’ve been experiencing any form of tooth sensitivity, then contact Dr. Deborah Tabb at Bethesda Family Dentistry. Located in Bethesda, MD, Dr. Tabb will be able to efficiently take care of and consult you in any toothaches and other conditions that you’ve been experiencing. If you wish to find a dentist that cares about your dental health, then contact Dr. Tabb today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Deborah TabbPatients at Bethesda Family Dentistry benefit from the knowledge and experience that only comes from a diverse team. From general dentistry to endodontic, periodontics, and cosmetic dental services, this Bethesda, MD clinic is ready to be the only source you need for all your oral health needs.