A toothache can be caused by anything from a popcorn hull stuck in your gum to a broken tooth or a bacterial infection. Some toothaches may come from temporary gum irritation. But serious toothaches need treatment by a dental professional to resolve the pain and whatever problem is causing it.
What are possible causes of toothache?
Toothaches can be caused by:
- Tooth decay.
- A bacterial infection inside the center of the tooth.
- Tooth fracture (broken tooth).
- A damaged filling.
- Repetitive motions, such as chewing gum or grinding or clenching teeth.
- Infected gums.
- Eruption (teeth coming out of the gums) or removal of a tooth (for example, wisdom teeth).
Can my toothache go away on its own?
Some toothaches that come from pain around (but not inside) your tooth can get better without a trip to the dentist. Pain from a temporary irritation (redness) in the gum can be resolved within a few days.
How will the dentist treat my toothache?
Treatment by a dental professional depends on what is causing your toothache.
- If a cavity is causing the toothache, your dentist will fill the cavity or take the tooth out, if necessary.
- A root canal (a procedure to remove and replace infected pulp with sealing material) may be needed if the cause of the toothache is an infection of the tooth’s nerve.
- An antibiotic may be prescribed if there is fever or swelling of the jaw. A small piece of food (like a popcorn hull) can get stuck under the gums causing an infection. In this instance, a deep cleaning may be performed or recommended followed by further periodontal (gum) therapy if necessary.