8 Causes of Toothaches


A toothache is pain that won’t dissipate and indicates that you have an underlying oral health issue that needs to be addressed immediately by a dentist. Delaying treatment can result in more invasive treatment or tooth loss.

While the most common trigger of a toothache is a dental cavity due to tooth decay, a toothache can also be caused by an injury. A sinus infection can even mimic the symptoms of a toothache. Your dentist can help you determine what is causing your toothache and the treatment required.

Common Toothache Symptoms

  • Swelling around the tooth or of the jaw
  • Fever
  • Pain that doesn’t subside
  • Foul-tasting discharge
  • Discomfort when you bite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headache
  • Cold or heat sensitivity

Causes of a Toothache

While most toothaches are caused by tooth decay, there are some other reasons you may be experiencing discomfort.


Tooth decay is damage to the tooth’s enamel, and when left untreated, it develops into tiny holes that can cause sharp pain, especially when eating something hot or cold. However, throbbing pain can also occur if there is an infection or inflammation of the dental pulp.

Gum Infection

Gum disease is the number one reason for tooth loss globally and results in toothache when bacteria from the infected gums accumulate around the tooth. Gum disease can cause swelling, tender, and bleeding gums, as well as a painful abscess and gum recession. In the later stages of gum disease, you may experience damage to your teeth, gums and jawbone.

Sinus Congestion

Sinusitis caused by an infection can trigger a toothache because the roots of your upper teeth are near your sinuses. You will feel pressure around your eyes and in your forehead, have a bad-tasting post-nasal drip, and thick, discolored mucus. It may also hurt to chew or bite.

Eruption of Wisdom Teeth

An impacted wisdom tooth can cause swelling around the tooth, sharp pain when trying to bite down, an inability to close your jaw, headache, and foul-smelling breath. You may also develop a cyst on the tooth’s follicle, which also causes pain.

Abnormal Bite

Malocclusion (teeth that are out of alignment) can cause tooth and jaw pain as well as tooth temperature sensitivity. Misaligned teeth create pockets that trap food particles resulting in tooth decay and gum disease.


Grinding your teeth places stress on your teeth and jaw resulting in neck, face and jaw pain. It also wears down and damages your teeth, exposing the sensitive dentin layer beneath the enamel.

Loose Filling

A damaged filling can lead to decay and heightened sensitivity and, if left untreated, may require a root canal treatment.

Abscessed Tooth

A persistent, throbbing toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold, and discomfort when biting or chewing can indicate a tooth abscess. Other signs include red, swollen gums that drain pus, swollen lymph nodes, headache, foul breath, and a bitter taste in your mouth.

Contact Hinsdale Dental for a Dental Exam

At Hinsdale Dental, your oral health is our priority. If you are experiencing a toothache, contact our practice as soon as possible to arrange a dental exam so that we can restore your oral health.

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