What Are the Causes of Dental Pain?

Dental pain may be caused by several factors, including teeth cavities and gum disease. In some causes, an emerging wisdom tooth may also cause dental pain. Infants who are teething often experience pain and sore gums. People with sensitive teeth may experience dental pain when eating hot or cold foods. Certain dental procedures, such as root canal or oral surgery, often cause mild to moderate dental pain, and can be relieved by prescription pain medication.

When an individual experiences dental pain that is not due to oral surgery or injury, a dental examination and x-rays can generally determine the cause. In some cases, a tooth abscess may be the cause of pain and discomfort. An abscessed tooth, along with the gum surrounding it, will typically be inflamed and may be tender to the touch. There may be a drainage of pus from the area. This is due to a bacterial infection, which may be treated by extraction of the infected tooth and the use of antibiotics.

A toothache and gum pain may be caused by a cavity, which is a hole in the tooth, generally caused by decay. The hole may begin very small and gradually grow larger if not filled by a dentist. Filling a cavity is a fairly common procedure to save a tooth that could otherwise become severely decayed over time, causing greater pain and possible infection.


Injury to the mouth may result in a cracked tooth. This may occur from a fall or being struck in the mouth. A tooth that is chipped, cracked, or broken may cause pain ranging from moderate to severe. If the nerve in the tooth is damaged, the pain may be intense. A dentist may fill in a minor crack or apply a crown to the tooth, but if the tooth is badly broken, root canal therapy may be needed.

When an individual has a tooth extracted, the dentist or oral surgeon will instruct the person on proper post-operative care to help speed healing and prevent a painful post-operative condition known as dry socket. After a tooth extraction, a blood clot will form in the socket where the tooth was removed. Dry socket may occur if the clot has been expelled, which is why patients should not gargle or drink through a straw for several days or longer after a tooth extraction. A major symptom of a dry socket is pain around the surgery site, which will often require further treatment.



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