What Could a Toothache Mean

What Could a Toothache Mean

What Could a Toothache Mean?

Whether it’s a sharp, piercing pain or dull and aching, chances are you’ve experienced a toothache at some point in your life. The pain can be short-lived or last for days. Even simple daily habits like brushing or chewing can trigger discomfort. Toothaches come in a variety of forms, therefore making a diagnosis tricky.

The American Dental Association says, “If your mouth or jaw hurt, it could be from a toothache. Toothaches usually indicate a cavity, but they can also signal gum disease. In some cases, a toothache is a sign of an abscess or impacted tooth. A toothache should be evaluated by a dentist right away to determine the cause of the problem and prevent the tooth from dying.”

Toothache Causes

There are non-dental causes of tooth pain (like migraines, for example), but the vast majority of toothaches originate in the mouth. Common causes of toothaches are:

You should contact your dentist if the toothache lasts longer than 1-2 days, is severe, and/or causes fever or pain in the ears. Furthermore, ADA has addressed what qualifies as an emergency to help patients determine when to consult with their dentist – especially during COVID-19. To see the full list of dental care that qualifies as an emergency, click here.


Because there are so many different causes of toothaches with extensive degrees of damage, treatment plans vary. Your dentist may simply remove the infection and decay from the aching tooth or recommend a more complicated procedure like a root canal or tooth extraction. Below are examples of treatment options for tooth pain:


The good news is that we are not Tom Hanks on Castaway – deserted on an uninhabited island and performing our own dental work. Thankfully, dental pain can be treated with routine dentistry. Diagnosing and treating dental pain is considered one of the main responsibilities of a dentist. And dental caries (or cavities) are the most common cause of tooth decay and toothaches.

So, what do you do if the pain is severe and lasting for more than a day or two? Call your dentist immediately and make an appointment. A thorough medical exam is needed to find the source of the pain. Once the pain is located and treated, proper dental care is needed. Make sure to incorporate the following oral hygiene habits into your daily life: