Fix Tooth Pain and Headache

Patients suffering from throbbing tooth pain, may be experiencing tooth damage, decay, or a cavity.  Throbbing pain could also signify the presence of an infection in the tooth or surrounding gums.  This article will address some of the common symptoms, causes, and treatments for toothaches.

Toothache Symptoms

In addition to throbbing pain, other toothache symptoms can include:

  • Continuous dull ache
  • Shooting pain when biting down
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweets
  • Tenderness in the jaw and/or mouth
  • Redness
  • Swollen gums or mouth
  • Bad tase or smell in the mouth
  • Pus
  • Fever

Common Toothache Causes and Treatments

Tooth Decay:  The most common cause of tooth pain, tooth decay or cavities occur when plaque-causing bacteria eat through the outer layer of tooth enamel leaving small holes.

TREATMENT:  Professional cleaning to remove plaque, antibiotics to fight infection, fillings to patch any cavities.

Tooth Abscess:  When the inner tooth pulp becomes infected and dies, a pocket of pus and bacteria forms called an abscess.

TREATMENT:  Antibiotics to clear the infection, cleaning out and draining the abscess, gum treatment (if due to gum disease), root canal procedure, dental implants (if the tooth cannot be saved).

Tooth Fracture:  A split or crack in the tooth that allows things to penetrate the tooth and irritate the nerves and pulp.  Can be caused by trauma, an accident, old age, or biting on something hard and can often lead to throbbing pain.

TREATMENT:  Fillings, veneers, dental glue, a crown, or root canal (if pulp infected).

Damaged Filling:  Because fillings are restorations and not as strong as natural enamel, they are subject to damage from normal chewing and biting.

TREATMENT:  Repair or replace the damaged filling, a crown.

Gum Infection:  Called gingivitis, a gum infection can progress to gum disease (periodontitis).  The primary cause of adult tooth loss, gum infections can be caused by poorly cleaning the teeth, unhealthy diet, smoking, hormonal changes, some health conditions, and certain medications.  Gum disease can also lead to gum recession and damage the bones that hold teeth in place.

TREATMENT:  Antibiotics, professional deep cleaning procedure (scaling and root planing), medicated mouthwash, surgery (severe cases).

Clenching or Grinding the Teeth:  Called bruxism, grinding the teeth can exert excessive force on teeth and gums.  This can lead to tooth erosion, increase the risk of cavities, fractured teeth, and toothaches.  Often occurring at night, bruxism can be due to genetics, overly developed jaw muscles, and stress.

TREATMENT:  Wear a mouthguard when sleeping, behavioral modification, stress relief, mental health counseling.

Loose Crown:  Frequently used to repair a cracked or broken tooth, crowns are tooth shaped covers that fit over the entire tooth.  Crowns are made of porcelain, ceramic, or metal and because they are cemented in place, they can become loose over time and are not as strong as enamel.  If bacteria get under a loose crown, throbbing pain can result.

TREATMENT:  Repair or replace the crown, treat any cavity if present.

Tooth Eruption:  As new teeth come in and erupt through the gums, pain in the jaw, gums, and surrounding teeth can occur.  Eruption occurs with teething babies, children growing permanent teeth, and adults getting wisdom teeth.

TREATMENT:  Pain medication, oral numbing gels, surgery (if tooth is impacted), letting the process play out (for infants and children).

Fix Cracked Teeth