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What are the Symptoms of a Toothache?

By Rhonda Rivera
Updated May 17, 2024
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The symptoms of a toothache are varied and depend on the cause of the tooth pain. A person might experience pain in his or her jaw, neck, or cheek. There might also be minor bleeding and discharge from the gum under or surrounding the tooth in question. Gum disease is a very common cause of a toothache, so there might also be signs of this disease, like inflamed red gums or pockets in the gum. It is generally recommended to a see a dentist to find the cause and solve the problem.

One of the most common symptoms of a toothache is pain in the jaw. This pain can be constant, or it can come and go as the affected person introduces hot or cold stimuli. Often, pain from stimuli, like a hot beverage or cold food, does not immediately go away once the stimuli is removed. The pain can continue for several seconds to a couple of minutes, radiating throughout the mouth and jaw.

The symptoms of a toothache are not limited to mouth and jaw pain, of course. Toothache pain can radiate throughout the cheek, throat, and even the forehead. In fact, some people mistake the symptoms of a toothache for an ordinary headache caused by loud noise or stress. There can also be confusion about where toothache-induced throat pain is coming from too, with some mistaking it for throat pain caused by the common cold. Generally, pain that originates from one part of the body but is felt in another is called referred pain.

Depending on the cause, the affected person might experience blood and discharge coming from around one or more teeth. These symptoms of a toothache can be caused by trauma to the mouth or gum disease. Trauma to the mouth can either be direct or indirect, and caused by any number of things, like falling and hitting the jaw, being hit in the mouth with an object, or attempting to chew something very hard.

Gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene, usually from failing to floss and brush often enough. This disease commonly starts with inflamed gums that bleed when brushed or flossed. In this case of gum disease, the symptoms of a toothache might be excessive gum bleeding, pockets within the gums, and eventually tooth loss if the disease is not treated.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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