When Teeth Scream: Understanding Tooth Pain


Having a toothache is a pain – quite literally! Tooth pain can stem from a problem with the tooth itself or the area surrounding it. There are various reasons why you might experience toothaches, and it’s crucial to understand the possible causes and seek appropriate treatment. 

What is Tooth Pain?

Tooth pain, also known as a toothache, is a discomfort in and around your teeth and jaws that can be caused by different factors. The intensity of the tooth pain can vary from mild to severe and might be constant or come and go.

You might notice the following signs of a toothache:

  • Persistent, throbbing pain around the affected tooth or gum, often accompanied by swelling.
  • Discomfort and tooth sensitivity when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks .
  • Sensitivity and sharp pain when touching or biting down on the affected tooth.
  • Feeling tender and achy around the tooth area.
  • In the area of the pain, slight tooth discolouration
  • In some cases, a toothache may be accompanied by an occasional fever.

Ignoring toothaches is not a good idea, as they can worsen over time if left untreated. While most toothaches aren’t life-threatening, even if you are committed to positive dental care habits, some could be a sign of more severe conditions that require immediate medical attention.

Possible Causes of Tooth Pain

Let’s take a closer look at some of the likely reasons behind that pesky – or not so pesky –  tooth pain:

  1. Tooth Decay: One of the most common culprits of toothaches is tooth decay. When you don’t address tooth decay in its early stages, it can progress and penetrate deeper into the tooth, causing pain. Initially, you might notice tooth sensitivity and discomfort when consuming sweet or cold foods and drinks. However, if the decay reaches the nerve at the core of the tooth, it can lead to an infection and a painful toothache.
  2. Wisdom Teeth: Ah, the wisdom teeth! These late bloomers can be troublemakers when they start pushing through the gums. If a wisdom tooth only partially emerges, it becomes challenging to keep it clean, leading to bacterial buildup. This buildup can result in inflammation, infection, and, you guessed it, major tooth pain!
  3. Broken Tooth: Teeth can break for various reasons. Tooth decay, if left untreated, weakens the tooth structure, making it prone to breaking. Additionally, biting on hard items like candies, nuts, and popcorn kernels or using your teeth to open items can also lead to tooth fractures, and tooth sensitivity. When the tooth enamel breaks, the dentine layer underneath becomes exposed, causing sensitivity or pain.
  4. Gingivitis or Periodontitis: Gingivitis is a mild and common form of gum disease, and can lead to red swollen gums and tooth pain. Halitosis or bad breath can also be present. If left untreated, it can progress into a more severe gum disease called periodontitis. This disease can lead to gum recession, tooth sensitivity, and even tooth loss. To manage periodontitis, seek the help of a dental practitioner or a periodontist specialising in gum health.

Where the Pain Comes From: Tooth Nerves and Tooth Sensitivity

The tooth is composed of different layers: the outer layer is called enamel, the middle layer is dentin, and the innermost part contains the tooth pulp, which houses nerves and blood vessels. When the tooth’s protective layers (enamel and dentin) are damaged due to decay, a crack, or other issues, the nerve inside the pulp can become exposed or irritated. This can lead to tooth sensitivity or severe pain, commonly referred to as a toothache. 

Common Questions Answered About Tooth Pain and Treatment 

Can I go to the GP for dental pain? 

In most cases, it’s better to visit a dentist for dental pain rather than a general practitioner (GP). Dentists are specialised healthcare professionals with specific training and expertise in diagnosing and treating dental issues. They can identify the cause of your dental pain and provide appropriate dental treatments. If necessary, a dentist may refer you to a specialist or work in conjunction with a GP to address any related health concerns.

What can you do for unbearable tooth pain? 

If you’re experiencing unbearable tooth pain, the best course of action is to seek professional dental care immediately. In the meantime, you can try some at-home remedies to alleviate the pain temporarily. These may include over-the-counter pain relievers (following the recommended dosage), applying a cold compress to the affected area, rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater, or using over-the-counter topical numbing gels. However, these remedies are not a substitute for professional dental treatment, so it’s crucial to see a dentist as soon as possible.

What is the best painkiller for toothache? 

Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) are often used to manage toothache pain. These medications (following the recommended dosage) can help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from discomfort. Consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns before taking painkillers.

Will tooth nerve pain eventually go away? 

Tooth nerve pain may go away temporarily if the underlying cause is minor, like mild sensitivity due to hot or cold substances. However, if the pain is caused by more severe issues like tooth decay, a cracked tooth, or an inflamed nerve, it is unlikely to resolve on its own. Ignoring dental pain can lead to worsening conditions, so it’s essential to seek professional dental care to address the underlying cause.

Can an inflamed tooth nerve settle down? 

An inflamed tooth nerve, also known as pulpitis, may settle down if the inflammation is mild and is addressed promptly. If you seek dental treatment early, your dentist may be able to alleviate the inflammation and preserve the tooth. However, if the inflammation is severe, it can progress to irreversible pulpitis or even lead to a dental abscess. In such cases, the nerve may not settle down, and root canal treatment or tooth extraction might be necessary to relieve the pain and prevent further complications.

What calms a tooth nerve? 

To calm a tooth nerve, you need to address the underlying cause of irritation or inflammation. Professional dental treatment is essential to identify and resolve the issue properly. If the nerve is inflamed due to decay or infection, your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment to remove the infected pulp and preserve the tooth. In some cases, if the tooth is severely damaged or infected beyond repair, the tooth may need to be extracted.

Don’t Suffer in Silence

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, seek help from a reputable dental professional who can properly diagnose the cause of your discomfort. Myer Street Dental is a trusted dental practice dedicated to providing top-quality care for all your family dental needs

Understanding the underlying reasons for tooth pain and addressing them promptly can help alleviate your discomfort and prevent potential complications. Remember, toothaches are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, so don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Myer Street Dental and take the first step towards a healthier, pain-free smile. 

Your dental health matters, so let our experts take care of you.