Common Causes of a Tooth Ache

Toothaches are very common reasons to send you to a general dental physician. Common symptoms of toothaches are continuous mouth pain, or pain when you bite down, fevers, and swelling around the tooth area. More severe cases can cause a foul tasting discharge from the infected area and even difficulty swallowing and breathing.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the more common causes of tooth aches. Tooth decay is what causes cavities in the teeth. The severity of the cavity depends on the amount of damage occurring to the structure of the tooth. Cavities can occur in both the outer coating of the tooth, called the enamel, or it can occur deeper into the tooth in the dentin layer. Untreated cavities can result in further damage of the teeth and gums and can result in more serious infections such as abscesses, gum infections and even gum disease.


Abscesses are can be caused by untreated tooth decay, commonly called cavities. An abscess is an infection that occurs below the root of the tooth. The infection happens when the inner most part of the tooth, the pulp, becomes infected. It creates pockets of pus that causes throbbing or pulsating pain, fever, and swelling of the tooth area. The pain and swelling may be widespread and it may be difficult to identify which tooth is causing the problem. You general dental physician will take x-rays to locate the abscessed tooth.
Sometimes the pain associated with a tooth ache is not in the tooth at all. Pain in other areas of the mouth may be interpreted as a tooth ache. Gum infections and gum disease can be cause for this type of pain.


Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. It is caused by bacteria along the gum lines of the teeth. Symptoms of gingivitis are inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Leaving the inflammation of the gums untreated can result in a more serious condition called periodontitis.


Periodontitis is a disease of the gums. It is the result of the inner layer of the gum and pulling away from the teeth. This creates pockets that collect debris that easily become infected. The toxins then begin to break down the bone and connective tissue needed to hold the teeth into place. As the disease advances, more bone and tissues become infected. Eventually infection causes enough damage that the teeth are no longer anchored in the mouth and they fall out. Peritonitis is a frequent cause for tooth loss in adults. Periodontitis can be avoided by treating gingivitis early.

Determining the cause and treatment needed for a toothache can be very difficult without a visit to your general dental physician. If you have symptoms of a toothache that last more than two days, you should seek treatment right away. Leaving toothaches untreated can result in serious infection and permanent damages including tooth loss.

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