Fact Checked

Why Do My Teeth Hurt?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

October 25, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Greg Grillo, DDS

You are not alone if you experience a flash of pain in your gums, a sudden toothache, or even chronic tooth sensitivity. According to an American Dental Association survey, 22% of Americans have experienced tooth, gum, or jaw discomfort in the past six months. 

Two possibilities are that you have dental sensitivity or one of your teeth is fractured or diseased. The good news is that your dentist can cure most cases of acute tooth discomfort.

Here are 21 probable causes of tooth discomfort and when you should see a dentist.

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Toothache Causes and Home Remedies

Tooth decay

A cavity is another term for tooth decay. Tooth decay isn’t often noticeable since it begins at the top and spreads to the sides of your teeth. It doesn’t become evident until the decay progresses inside the tooth and causes infection and jaw pain (which often results in the need for a root canal). Cavities are produced by bacteria that accumulate over time due to a poor diet and inadequate dental hygiene. Cavities, fortunately, are frequently treatable with antibiotics and maybe a filling, which is a simple outpatient dental treatment.

You clench your teeth

Clenching is one of the most common reasons for dental discomfort. When people are anxious, in deep concentration, or in difficult situations, they start jaw clenching. When you clench your jaw, you put pressure on your teeth that they are not designed to withstand, which can cause pain in your teeth. This poor coping method might cause tooth pain or loose teeth over time. You may even be clenching your jaw if you suffer toothaches after being stressed or angry. Finding other methods to cope with stress and emotions might help to alleviate tooth pain.

Direct contact with extremely high or low temperatures

Tooth sensitivity can be brought on by two factors: damaged tooth enamel and exposed nerves in the teeth, often from a cracked tooth. Suppose you consume something with a very low or extremely high temperature. In that case, you risk experiencing a quick and severe jolt of tooth pain.

Dental erosion may be causing tooth pain

There are several instances in which bacteria are not responsible for tooth enamel erosion but the damage is instead caused by a highly acidic diet. A dentist could use the term "dental erosion" to refer to the damage in this scenario. There are several potential causes.

Consuming acidic foods and drinks, such as citrus fruits and carbonated sodas, can cause enamel to get eroded and worn down. Consuming large quantities of alcohol can also have the same effect.

Exposure to gastric acid can also potentially cause teeth erosion.

The illness known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is prevalent. It manifests itself when acid from the stomach travels back down the esophagus and into the mouth. Dental erosion and tooth pain are common among patients with GERD and chronic acid reflux.

In addition, some studies have shown that some persons with eating disorders who induce frequent vomiting expose their teeth to the acid produced by the stomach.


Sinuses are air-filled cavities in the skull that decrease the weight of the head. Sinusitis can produce toothache or severe pain from irritated sinuses. When the sinuses are inflamed and swollen, they compress the tissues around them, including the teeth, producing tooth discomfort.

Doctor-prescribed medications heal sinus infections. Chronic sinus infections necessitate surgery.

Brushing Too Firmly

Yes, there is such a thing as brushing too hard and too frequently. You are wearing away your tooth structure and gum line when you brush too hard. Because the tooth's root is more exposed, this might cause sensitivity.. Unfortunately, there is no way to reverse the damage without placing a filling, although there are ways you can help reduce tooth pain, such as using an extra soft toothbrush.

You are grinding your teeth

Some people react with stress and anger by grinding their teeth. Many people also unknowingly grind their teeth in their sleep. See your dentist about possible treatment solutions if you believe you are tooth grinding while sleeping. Wearing a mouthguard while sleeping to protect your teeth is one of the simplest methods to reduce toothaches caused by grinding.

Receding gums or gum disease

Gums are a covering of pink tissue that surrounds the tooth's base and covers the bone to protect the nerve endings. Gum tissue generally begins to wear as you age, resulting in gum recession.

This recession exposes the roots of your teeth, making you more susceptible to gum disease and dental infections. Gum recession might cause your teeth to become more sensitive to tooth pain than usual.

There is an abscess

A dental abscess is a pus-filled pocket that occurs inside a tooth, the gums, or the bones that keep the teeth in place, which can cause substantial tooth pain.

A bacterial infection causes an abscess and can cause throbbing discomfort and tooth pain in the afflicted region.

If the infection spreads, it can produce dangerous swelling that needs immediate medical treatment.

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Gingivitis, or gum infection, is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. Some people have gingivitis without being aware of it. Gum sensitivity and bleeding gums are two signs of periodontal disease. To prevent the advancement of gum disease, you should treat gum infections as soon as feasible.

Cracked or Damaged Tooth

First and foremost, if you see a broken tooth, stop eating hard foods immediately. You may have fractured or chipped a tooth unknowingly. If the damage occurs on your front teeth, you may be able to see it. However, because they undergo extreme bite forces, your molars are more prone to be harmed by consuming hard-to-bite items. 

If the injury has caused a nerve to be damaged, it may produce acute, continuous tooth pain. Whether or not you are in pain, if you see a cracked, chipped, or broken tooth, visit a dental clinic as soon as possible and discuss treatment options to prevent infection and address your discomfort.

You rinse your mouth too frequently

Regular oral rinses can help maintain healthy teeth and remove a bad taste from your mouth. Overdoing it, on the other hand, may be dangerous. Tooth sensitivity might result from using mouthwash several times each day. This is because many types of mouthwash include acids that destroy the central layer of your teeth. 

If you have dental discomfort and find yourself reaching for your mouthwash many times a day, decreasing the amount of times you rinse to once or twice a day might be the solution.

Dental procedures

Your teeth's nerve endings can be momentarily more sensitive if you've recently had dental work, such as fillings or drilling, or even a whitening treatment is done to them. A dental filling operation might cause sensitivity that can linger for up to two weeks. Some teeth bleaching products can also cause sudden tooth pain after using them for up to two weeks.


The pulp is located in the core of the tooth and houses the tooth's nerve and blood supply.

Pulpitis develops when the pulp gets irritated. Sometimes the inflammation is reversible, while other times, it is not and results in chronic pain.

Irreversible pulpitis is one of the most prevalent reasons patients seek emergency dental care.

The predominant sign of irreversible pulpitis is extreme pain. When individuals expose their teeth to hot or cold food or drink, the discomfort may grow more intense and not go away.

The discomfort may be so acute that it keeps a person up at night.

Temporomandibular Disorder

TMJ disorder affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. TMJ issues cause abrupt or severe jaw, ear, or temple discomfort, which can spread to the teeth.

You're pregnant

Gingivitis is more likely during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that can produce bleeding gums and tooth pain. You are also more likely to develop cavities during pregnancy. Pay special attention to your oral health throughout pregnancy, and plan to visit your dentist more frequently.


Diabetes has been linked to several oral health issues, including tooth decay and gum disease.

Diabetes symptoms include the following:

  • Feeling extremely thirsty 
  • Feeling extremely tired
  • Frequently urinating
  • Blurry vision

If people with diabetes experience tooth discomfort, they should consult a dentist or doctor.

Your teeth are crowded

Crowded teeth can be painful in certain areas or all regions. Crowded teeth are indicated by crooked or overlapping teeth, discomfort when wisdom teeth erupt, or bite changes over time. A retainer or brace helps realign crowded teeth. One or more teeth might be removed to provide extra mouth space.

You've had nerve damage

A disorder known as trigeminal neuralgia is one possible but an unusual cause of tooth pain. This form of nerve injury causes persistent nerve pain in your head that might sometimes feel like a toothache. 

Pain can be caused by eating, drinking, and cleaning your teeth. Though this ailment is uncommon, if you are experiencing persistent pain, it may be worth seeing your doctor.

You are not drinking enough water

For various reasons, not drinking enough water can damage your teeth. Water wipes away residual food particles trapped in your teeth after eating. The water in many residential areas contains fluoride, which helps your teeth retain their strength. Staying hydrated also prevents the unpleasant side effects of having a dry mouth since saliva is 90% water. Drink enough water to keep your teeth healthy and prevent tooth discomfort.

You Have Heart Problems

Tooth discomfort, when accompanied by other symptoms, can sometimes be an indication of heart trouble. A heart attack can cause pain in your upper body, including your neck, shoulders, and make your teeth hurt suddenly. Pay particular attention if you also suffer sweating, chest discomfort, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or nausea in addition to mouth pain.

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Home remedies for immediate pain relief

A person may benefit from attempting the following remedies to treat dental pain:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Rinse with saltwater
  • Rinse with hydrogen peroxide
  • Garlic cloves
  • Tea with peppermint
  • Consume a nutritious but easy-to-chew diet.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • An extra-soft toothbrush
  • Smoking tobacco products should be avoided
  • Use toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss for sensitive gums and teeth

When Should You Go to the Dentist?

If your teeth hurt, see a dentist. Sometimes sensitivity-reducing toothpaste is all that's needed. But sometimes a tooth extraction, root canal, or filling is required.

Never ignore certain indications. Immediately contact your dentist if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Persistent throbbing or severe pain
  • Long-lasting toothache
  • Toothache with fever
  • A toothache from a migraine or thunderclap headache
  • Abnormally bad breath

Toothaches can have several causes. Most are caused by gum or enamel erosion, or by bacterial infection into the nerve.

If your teeth hurt or are sensitive, see your dentist. A dentist should check painful teeth to rule out more serious issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do all of my teeth hurt all of a sudden?

Infected or damaged teeth, or the onset of dental sensitivity in conjunction with another condition, are the most frequent causes of sudden toothache.

How can I stop my teeth aching?

Start with gargling saltwater or a cold compress. A mild over-the-counter painkiller can help. If pain persists, call your dentist.

Why are my teeth throbbing?

A pulsing sensation, comparable to a heartbeat, characterizes throbbing tooth discomfort. Early stage tooth decay is the most prevalent cause of throbbing pain in a tooth. One of the most prevalent forms of pain is tooth discomfort or toothache, which may necessitate dental care.

Is it possible for my toothache to go gone on its own?

Some toothaches that are caused by pain surrounding (but not inside) your tooth can be treated without seeing the dentist. Pain from a brief irritation (redness) in the gums will go away in a few days.

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