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Toothache occurs for many reasons. This post will answer what causes toothache and when it’s a dental emergency. So stay on the page if you’re interested to learn more. 

Most people will experience toothache at some point in their lives, even if they are meticulous with their oral hygiene. Tooth pain is subjective, so it can be hard to know whether it should be considered a dental emergency. If your child were suffering tooth pain, you’d probably be calling an emergency dentist right away, but when it’s yourself, you may be in two minds as to whether your toothache is a dental emergency.

It can be tempting to ramp up the painkillers to power through, but this can make matters worse and more costly to treat. Toothache is your body’s way of telling you something is amiss with your teeth or gums; you shouldn’t ignore it. 


When is toothache considered a dental emergency?

Noticeable damaged like a knocked-out tooth is an obvious dental emergency, as is excessive bleeding. However, the signs of a dental emergency aren’t always that clear. 

A mild ache or tooth pain that comes and goes may not need immediate emergency dental care, but it’s best to make an appointment with your dentist sooner rather than later to prevent it from worsening. 

Tooth pain can change without warning from irritating to excruciating. If you’re suffering unrelenting severe pain, you must call an emergency dentist immediately for same-day treatment. 


What causes severe toothache?

Tooth pain can be caused by anything from a cracked tooth to gum disease, but the leading cause of severe pain in a tooth is often an abscess. A tooth abscess occurs when bacteria access the tooth roots by entering through a cavity or crack in the tooth enamel. The bacteria rapidly multiply, creating a build-up of pus that results in a painful infection. The dentist will drain the abscess to relieve the toothache and prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. This treatment may be followed later with a root canal and finished with a crown to protect the weakened tooth. 



So, what else causes toothache?

Other common causes of tooth pain include the following: 


Tooth decay 

Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of toothache in children and adults. Severe pain may occur from tooth decay when bacteria form in the mouth due to improper brushing and flossing and slowly eats away at the tooth enamel. 

Bacteria are always present in the mouth, and while some are helpful, others can lead to problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque will eventually form on the teeth and along the gum line, which, if not removed, will cause the teeth to decay and brown patches to appear on the affected teeth.

In most cases, the dentist will clean the teeth thoroughly, remove any decayed areas and fill the tooth. Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is an infection. 

Tooth fracture 

A tooth fracture is when your tooth is damaged or cracked. A crack can be minuscule and harmless or more significant and cause a tooth to split. This can cause severe pain and warrants a visit to an emergency dentist. The reason for the pain is that bacteria, air, or food debris has entered the tooth through the crack and is irritating the pulp. 

Treatments for a tooth fracture depend on its location and severity but include a filling, crown or veneer. 


Damaged filling

A dental filling often protects sensitive areas of a tooth. A cracked or damaged filling exposes these areas to bacteria, pressure, temperature and food particles which can cause tooth pain and sensitivity when chewing food. If you think you have damaged a filling, then make an appointment with your dentist for treatment. 


Teeth grindingtooth pain cause parkdale

Teeth grinding or bruxism is involuntary clenching and grinding of the teeth. These actions can occur at any time but predominantly happen at night when a person is sleeping. Bruxism causes toothache and severe pain in the jaw, neck and other muscles. Symptoms of teeth grinding include:

  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Tired jaw muscles
  • Chipped teeth
  • Grinding and clenching noises that wake your partner

A dentist typically recommends wearing a nightguard over the teeth to prevent further damage. 

So now you know what causes toothache, is there any way you can prevent it from happening?

Maintaining good oral health by brushing twice daily and flossing once, supplemented by regular dental check-ups, will lower the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and toothache. 


Book an appointment

If you’re overdue a dental check-up or suffering intermittent tooth pain, why not book an appointment with the friendly dentists at Synergy Dental Group? If you’re in severe pain, call us on (03) 7003 2185 to get the emergency dental care you need. We’re currently offering a fantastic check-up and clean package, so don’t miss out.



Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.





Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Oral Health and Dental Care in Australia

News in Health NIH – Mouth Microbes

Clin Med – Bruxism Management