Get a handle on your tooth pain.

Ouch! Tooth pain is the worst. If it’s bad enough, you can’t eat, sleep, or do anything because of the constant distraction. You’re not alone in your suffering. In a six-month period, approximately 22% of Americans experience tooth pain.

There are various common reasons why you may be experiencing tooth pain, and most of them will require a trip to the dentist to fix it. For those who are curious, here are the top reasons you may be experiencing a toothache.


Tooth decay, or a cavity, as it is often called, is extremely common. In fact, 91% of American adults over age 20 have had cavities at some point in their life. Plus, as many as 27% may have untreated cavities.

Tooth decay begins when bacteria takes root in the mouth and begins eating away at tooth enamel. As the tooth becomes infected, the sensitive nerves and blood vessels in the tooth root can be affected and cause pain.

Tooth Erosion

Approximately 12% of people experience tooth erosion, which can lead to hypersensitivity in the teeth. This happens when the enamel that protects your tooth wears away and is not replaced, exposing the sensitive parts underneath.

Highly acidic diets, brushing your teeth too vigorously, and other factors can cause tooth erosion to occur.

Filling Failure

To stop the spread of tooth decay when you have a cavity, your dentist will clean out the decay and fill the space with dental material to protect the tooth, providing you with a filling.

Over time, the filling can fall out, for example, if you bite down too hard on something and dislodge it. This can expose the interior of the tooth and can cause pain.


A tooth infection can lead to an abscess, a pocket of pus that accumulates at the tip of the root or in the gums alongside the root. An abscess can cause tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, pain, swelling, fever, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and more. If you suspect you have an abscess, call your dentist to schedule an appointment right away.

Tooth Fracture

Biting down on something hard or receiving a blow to the tooth can sometimes cause a tooth fracture, a crack in the protective shell enamel that covers the tooth. Without this protection, the soft pulp and nerves in the interior of the tooth are exposed to environmental factors, potentially causing pain.

Wisdom Teeth

Sometimes wisdom teeth don’t grow in straight. Instead, they grow in at an angle, pointing forward toward the other teeth. This is called impacted wisdom teeth.

It can be a serious problem and cause pain as the teeth begin to grow, push, and put pressure on the other teeth. Even if the teeth aren’t impacted, many people don’t have enough room in their mouth for that last set of molars.

Furthermore, even healthy wisdom teeth can be more prone to tooth decay and other problems since they are more difficult to clean.

Clenched Jaw

Feeling stressed? Clenching your jaw all the time can lead to tooth pain, as the action wears away at the protective enamel on the teeth.

Many people who clench their jaw or grind their teeth, do it at night while they sleep and may not even realize it. For this reason, their tooth pain may seem mysterious. However, a dentist can tell if they are suffering from this issue and prescribe a custom night guard to combat the problem.


If jaw clenching goes on long enough, it can turn into a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. This is the joint that allows a person to open and close their mouth.

TMJ disorders can cause pain in the jaw and ear, possibly even the neck and shoulders.

Receding Gums

The gums play an important role in protecting the sensitive nerve endings of the teeth. If the gums begin to recede due to poor dental hygiene, these nerve endings can become exposed, causing pain and tooth sensitivity.

Furthermore, the patient can be more vulnerable to tooth infections and gum disease.


Infections in either the gums or teeth can cause painful issues in the mouth. Gum infections are called gingivitis, or gum disease. If left untreated, the condition can escalate and the patient may lose their teeth altogether.

Tooth infections can lead to painful abscesses and all-around unpleasant sensations in the mouth.

Sinus Issues

Sinus infections can also affect the teeth. As the pressure builds in your sinuses from an infection, the nerve endings of the teeth can be affected. This can cause pain in both the teeth and the jaw.

Dealing With a Toothache

What should you do if you start experiencing tooth pain? Some people may turn to home remedies for toothaches. However, as can be seen from this list, tooth pain is often an indication of a more serious underlying issue that usually needs treatment from a professional. If you suspect your toothache is being caused by something more severe, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

Looking for more advice? Feel free to ask us your questions!