A toothache can be from something simple like food stuck in your gums, or something more severe such as an infection. While some toothaches are temporary, more serious toothaches need treatment by a dentist. Below we will cover some of the main causes of toothaches.


Tooth eruption is a normal process in tooth development that everyone experiences. Teeth growing out of the gums, such as baby and adult teeth in children or wisdom teeth in young adults can cause pain. Teething toys and over-the-counter ointments and medicines can alleviate the pain in children. For young adults experiencing pain from wisdom teeth, over-the-counter medicines can be used for mild pain while some patients opt to undergo wisdom teeth removal if the growing teeth are expected to cause further dental issues.

Tooth Decay

The buildup of tooth decay can lead to cavities, which are holes that develop in the teeth. If left untreated, the holes can go deep enough to affect the pulp and nerves inside the tooth and cause pain. A small cavity can be fixed with a filling, while more severe cavities may require root canals or extractions. With proper hygiene and regular dental checkups, most cavities can be prevented. If you are experiencing pain, it is important to see a dentist right away to avoid serious complications.

Broken Fillings

Broken or loose filings can cause teeth to feel sensitive to pressure, hot/cold temperatures or air that hits the tooth’s tissue. It’s also possible for food and bacteria to build up under a damaged filing and cause tooth decay. If you suspect a filing may be broken or loose it’s important to see a dentist before further issues occur.

Weakened Enamel

If you experience discomfort when eating or drinking hot and cold items, it may be due to weakened enamel. Enamel is the outermost layer that protects the tooth, and when this layer thins out the tooth can become sensitive. Some people are born with thinner enamel, while enamel can also be weakened from brushing too hard, consuming acidic foods and drinks, and grinding. Brushing your teeth often with a soft toothbrush and mild pressure, using a retainer at night to prevent grinding and using products that are designed to alleviate sensitivity can help with the pain.

Receding Gums

When gums recede, they expose the roots of the tooth which can make the teeth sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Sometimes receding gums are unavoidable and due to hormonal changes or age, while other causes include aggressive brushing, smoking or poor oral hygiene. The treatment for receding gums depends on the cause, with one viable solution being gum contouring to replace the missing tissue.


Infection in the gums and bone surrounding the jaw can lead to periodontal disease, which is both painful and dangerous. If untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the body. Similarly, infection can form inside a damaged tooth and cause an abscess which is equally as painful and dangerous. Most infections can be prevented with proper oral hygiene, but if infection does occur it’s important to address it right away.