Toothache Causes, Symptoms, and Triggers

Determine if you have a toothache and understand what may have caused it. Learn toothache symptoms and what might have resulted in your pain.

Symptoms of Toothaches

Pain in your tooth and mouth is the primary symptom of a toothache, but the type of pain can vary and present itself in multiple ways:
  • Sharp, throbbing, or constant pain
  • Tooth pain that only occurs when pressure is applied
  • Swelling, painful gums 
  • Bad taste in the mouth (from an infection in a tooth)
  • Fever or headache

Causes of Toothaches

Generally, tooth pain is a result of inflammation of the soft, center part of the tooth. This pain can have several different causes:
  • Cavities (tooth decay)
  • Infection at the root of the tooth
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Damaged fillings
  • Repetitive motions (chewing or grinding)
  • Infected gums

Toothache Triggers

Some behaviors or foods can start your toothache, or even make it worse. They are known as "triggers" and include:
  • Cold drinks or food
  • Sweet foods
  • Biting down on anything
  • Putting other pressure on the tooth
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