4 Things a Toothache Can Tell You

Man in green shirt with toothache holding side of face


You’re biting into an apple and a sharp pain suddenly shoots into your gums. Right as you drink a sip of cold lemonade, one of your teeth begins to throb. Toothaches can happen in many different ways:

  • Applying pressure to a tooth
  • Exposing a tooth to something cold or hot
  • A consistent pain in a tooth


Regardless of how the pain occurs, a toothache can be excruciating. A toothache can reveal a lot about your dental health. Here are 4 things your toothache could be telling you.


Tooth Decay

A toothache may reveal that you have tooth decay.


Without a proper dental routine, teeth can begin to decay. The bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugars in the things you eat and drink, producing harmful acid that breaks down your enamel.


Illustration of cavity in a tooth showing all three layers of a tooth and how the tooth sits in the gums


As the tooth begins to decay, cavities develop. Cavities are holes that form in your teeth as the enamel (outer layer of your tooth) and dentin (inner layer of your tooth) begin to decay. In extreme cases, decay can infect the entire tooth down to the pulp (where the roots and nerves are), resulting in the need for a root canal.


When the protective layer of enamel has been destroyed and left exposed, a toothache results. Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of toothaches.


Damaged Filling

Fillings are used to literally “fill in” a hole in your tooth. When you have a cavity, a dentist will clean out the decayed part of the tooth and fill in the hole with amalgam or composite resin. Fillings allow you to keep a decayed tooth, while protecting the tooth from further decay.


However, if your filling is cracked or damaged, the loosened material can begin pressing down on the decayed tooth and lead to a toothache. A damaged filling also exposes your tooth to further infection.


If you are suffering from a toothache, you could have a loose or damaged filling.


Cracked Tooth

A toothache can be the result of a cracked tooth. When the enamel of a tooth is cracked, the actual tooth can begin moving and irritate the pulp of the tooth. The pulp can become infected, exposed directly to the harmful acids through the crack in your tooth.


Illustration of a deep crack/fracture in tooth


If a crack in the tooth goes beyond the gum line (the hidden part of the tooth), it must be extracted. Early detection is important because a crack that remains on the exposed part of the tooth can generally be treated with a root canal and crown.


Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. Receding gum lines and bleeding gums are common symptoms of gum disease. When gum disease is left untreated, pockets can form between teeth and gums, becoming infected because of the plaque and food that get stuck in the pockets.


If periodontal disease continues to go untreated, gum tissue and bone begin to break down. Tooth loss often follows because the teeth are no longer anchored in place.


A toothache may indicate that you have gum disease.


Woman with toothache in dental chair next to dental equipment holding side of face explaining dental problem to dentist with mask, green sink and backsplash in background


While a toothache is never fun, it’s important to pay attention to what the pain could be telling you about your dental health. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist every six months.


If you have a toothache or want to schedule a dental appointment, contact Greenspoint Dental in Houston, Texas. We are dedicated to providing you and your loved ones with the best dental care.