Toothaches are a common reason for presenting to the dental clinic. While some toothaches can be preventable, others may be unpredictable and come without warning.

Causes of toothaches

Tooth decay

At an earlier stage tooth decay usually occurs without any signs or symptoms. However if left untreated the cavity may become large and result in a toothache. This may be exacerbated if food debris gets trapped within the cavity or if the cavity has reached the dental nerve.

Cracked tooth

A tooth that has a crack in it may produce pain either in response to biting hard grainy foods, to cold foods or drinks, or spontaneously when the nerve is involved.

Nerve pain or infection

All teeth have a nerve inside to provide vital cells for function. Over time these highly sensitive nerves can become irritated or infected due to stimuli including deep decay, cracks or trauma. Pain associated with a dying/infected nerve can range from pain to temperature, pressure or spontaneous aching.

Gum infection

Gums around the teeth are at risk of infection if there are heavier than normal buildups of plaque, calculus or food debris. Some medical conditions also put gums at a higher chance of localised infections.

Wisdom teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can often be associated with pain, especially if it’s difficult to keep clean. Subsequently, the nearby gums are more prone to inflammation and infection.


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