Understanding Tooth Pain & How to Get Rid of Tooth Pain

Tooth pain can be frustrating for many people, especially when the cause is undermined. The core reason why your tooth or teeth may be causing you pain is when the nerve in the root becomes irritated. This could be due to a number of reasons, including decay, trauma (injury to the tooth from sport, etc) or chipping or complete loss of the tooth.

Tooth pain can also occur when a tooth has been surgically removed – this is a completely normal side effect post-procedure and often be treated with over-the-counter medication.

In some cases, it may not be your tooth that is causing you pain and the problem radiates from other areas and radiates to the jaw, making it look and feel like tooth pain. Areas where pain may originate and disguise itself as tooth pain are your ears, sinuses and in rare occasions, your heart.

Why All Types of Tooth Pain Require Attention

It’s not uncommon to experience tooth pain, whether it’s throbbing tooth pain that comes and goes, a dull achy sensation or a sharp and swift pain or simply pain when eating. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to help alleviate this pain which we will discuss below.

Regardless of the reason for the pain, over the counter pain medication will only help for so long and will not address the root of the problem. Tooth pain requires a visit to the dentist to ensure no major problems are present.

Tooth Pain: What it Could be

As mentioned before, there are many reasons why you may be experiencing tooth pain, all of which may require different dental treatments to alleviate the pain.

1. Tooth decay

Tooth decay is arguably the most common reason people experience tooth pan. Tooth decay pain occurs when bacteria forms in the mouth from poor hygiene, and when left, the bacteria slowly begins to wear away at your enamel (the outer layer of your tooth).

While bacteria is a constant in both our mouths and general body health, too much of it can cause problems which can lead to infections and gum disease if left untreated. Over time, the bacteria will form into plaque, which, when left, will cause your tooth to start decaying and form small brown, white or black spots on the affected teeth.

Treating Tooth Decay Pain

In most cases, treating tooth decay is relatively straightforward and involves your dentist repairing the hole or decayed areas via:

  • Cleaning your teeth thoroughly to remove the plaque
  • A filling to restore the hole caused by decay
  • Antibiotics to heal the infection

2. Tooth abscess pain

A tooth or dental abscess can be very painful and starts when part or all of your pulp dies. Pulp is the soft inner part of your tooth and is made up of living blood vessels, tissue and nerves.

When the tissue inside dies, it can create a gap or ‘pocket’ for bacteria to grow and transform into an abscess. If you have damaged your tooth through injury (such as knocking it playing sport) then it’s important you visit your dentist as this can lead to an abscess if the cracked area is not treated.

Treatment for Tooth Abscess Pain

Treating a tooth abscess may involve antibiotics to help kill the present bacteria causing the infection. Your dentist will then need to clean and drain your mouth of the abscess, this will also include cleaning your gums and anywhere else the infection may have reached.

If the abscess is caused by a cracked tooth, you may require a root canal treatment, and in severe cases you may require a full or partial dental implant if the tooth is badly infected.

3. Tooth fracture

Tooth fractures occur when your tooth becomes damaged or cracked. Tooth fractures can be caused by direct trauma to the tooth through accident or injury and even biting down on hard foods (such as ice). Tooth fractures can develop slowly over time, which is why many patients liken the symptoms to throbbing tooth pain that come and goes.

The reason you are likely experiencing pain is because something has entered through the cracked tooth and is irritating the pulp. This could include:

  • Bacteria
  • Food particles
  • Water
  • Air

Treating Fractured Tooth Pain

Tooth fractures are easily repaired using a veneer, crown or filling. If the tooth is severely damaged and becomes infected, you may require a root canal, but this will be discussed during your consultation or at your appointment.

4. Damaged Filling

Damaged fillings are fairly common and can occur through routine biting and chewing. If you grind your teeth, this can also damage your filling and result in it becoming chipped, cracked, wearing away or coming loose.

Treatment for Tooth Filling Pain

Treating damaged fillings is a routine procedure for a dentist. They may fit a crown over the top of the filling or recommend a new filling if the tooth has become badly damaged.

5. Infected gums

Although not directly related to teeth, gum infections can cause tooth pain and even lead to gum disease and periodontitis. Gum disease remains the main cause of tooth loss in adults.

Gum infections can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene routines (not brushing and flossing once a day)
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
  • Certain health conditions such as diabetes
  • Genetics

When your gum becomes infected due to excess bacteria, the infection can grow around your teeth and trick you into thinking you have a tooth problem. While you may be experiencing tooth pain, it has likely originated from your infected gums.

Gum disease may shrink gums away from the tooth. It may also break down the bone that holds teeth in place. This can loosen teeth and cause cavities.


Treating gum disease/gingivitis can be achieved through a course of antibiotics and regular checkups from your dentist to remove built up plaque and tartar. If you have severe gum disease, you may require several checkups and routine cleans from your dentist to keep on top of it.

6. Grinding or clenching

Otherwise known as bruxism, grinding your teeth applies pressure to your mouth, which can cause tooth pain. Bruxism can occur due to stress, genetics or over-developed jaw muscles. Left untreated, bruxism can cause tooth fractures, loosen fillings and even cavities.

You may be suffering with bruxism if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Your teeth feel rougher on the edges
  • You notice tiny cracks on your teeth
  • Your teeth have become more sensitive
  • Your teeth have become slightly yellow in colour

Treatment for Bruxism Pain

Hove Dental Clinic does offer a specialised mouthguard to help patients stop grinding their teeth and alleviate pain caused by bruxism. Our Sleep Clench Inhibitor works to eliminate common symptoms associated with bruxism. Jaw, mouth, ear and head pain is relieved by this FDA approved system.

It’s also worth addressing whether stress is the core problem of your teeth grinding, as this is the cause for many patients.

7. Loose Crown

Crowns are used to bond teeth together, but if your crown becomes loose, this leaves room for bacteria to enter the site which can lead to tooth nerve pain and bacterial infection.

Treating tooth crown pain

Crowns becoming loose over time is not uncommon and is easily treated through removal of the crown and implanting a new crown.

8. Eruption of a tooth

This is very common and can be attributed to the eruption of wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth pain is very common and is the result of your wisdom teeth erupting from the gumline and pushing their way into your tooth formation. Sometimes, your wisdom tooth may grow in the wrong direction and may require dental intervention.

If you are suffering from wisdom teeth, it is advised you visit your dentist for a checkup to ensure your tooth isn’t impating any neirbohroubng teeth during its eruption phase.


Treatment for wisdom tooth pain can be as simple as using over the counter pain medication or topical remedies. If your wisdom tooth is impacting your neighbouring teeth, a minor surgical operation may be required to make room for your wisdom tooth to grow.

9. Sinus Tooth Pain

Like how gum-related issues can disguise themselves as toothaches, your sinuses trick you into thinking you have a problem with your tooth or teeth. This is because the roots of your upper teeth are very close to your sinuses and pain is transferred to your teeth (you may even experience tooth and ear pain).

If you are experiencing pain in several of your upper teeth, you may have a sinus infection or simply be suffering with a fever.

Treating Sinus Pain

Sinus pain can be treated in a number of ways, many of which involve pain medication, lots of rest and plenty of fluids.

10. Pain After Tooth Extraction

Pain after tooth extraction is to be expected for up to two weeks after your procedure. The procedure itself involves having a tooth removed and replaced with an implant. There are several reasons why you may require a tooth extraction, including a crowded mouth or an infected tooth.

Treating Tooth Extraction Pain

Your dentist will likely prescribe you a course of painkillers to help numb the pain and provide instructions to ensure a swift and safe recovery. This will likely include:

  • Applying ice to the operated area
  • Eating soft foods and avoiding drinking from a straw
  • No alcohol or smoking
  • Continued brushing and flossing of your teeth

Other Reasons For Tooth Pain

It may be that there are no problems with your teeth and that there are underlying problems elsewhere. Be sure to check that your tooth pain is not caused by one of the following:

Food getting stuck within your mouth
Maloclusion (abnormal bite causing discomfort when eating or talking)
Sinus infections (as mentioned above)
heart disease, such as angina (pain around the teeth and jaw)

When Should I See a Dentist?

If you are experiencing tooth pain for more than a few days and you are unsure of what has caused it, you should visit your dentist. It may be a simple case of food being caught within your teeth but it also may be the sign of a small infection which will require treatment to fix it.

If you are experiencing one of the following symptoms, you should book and appointment with your dentist as soon as possible:

  • Persistent tooth or jaw pain that lasts several days
  • Problems or discomfort when eating
  • A high temperature or fever related to your mouth, jaw or teeth
  • Swelling and bruising of the mouth and/or jaw
  • Sore gums
  • Bad breath and bad taste in your mouth

It’s highly recommended that you visit the dentist once every six months for a routine checkup to ensure you’re following a high level of oral health care/

Home Remedies for Tooth Pain

In some cases, you can create home remedies for tooth pain. If you are experiencing wisdom tooth pain or something has lodged itself in your tooth and it’s causing you pain try the following

  • Mix salt with warm water and rinse your mouth to clear any debris or food
  • Floss to try and clear any lodged food or debris that may be causing you tooth pain
  • Ice the area of discomfort (10 minutes at a time)
  • Take over the counter pain medication

Please remember that the above are not guaranteed to fix the problem, only alleviate the pain. It’s highly recommended you visit your dentist for a routine checkup for a professional assessment.

Does Your Tooth Pain Require a Trip to the Dentist?

If you are suffering with persistent toothaches and standard medication is not helping, it may be the sign of a more serious problem. At Hove Dental Clinic, we can book you in for a routine checkup to assess your oral health and ensure nothing is out of the ordinary.

During your checkup, we will be able to identify any problems immediately and provide treatment solutions that may save you money and discomfort in the future. Alternatively, if you know what is causing your discomfort and you’re curious about our treatment prices, please visit our Private Charges page.

Please call or email our friendly team today to arrange a check-up or consultation for more information.


How long does pain last after tooth extraction?

Tooth extraction is a routine procedure with a relatively fast healing period. Pain is expected to last a few days after your procedure but can be alleviated with ice packs and over the counter pain medication. In some cases, your dentist may prescribe different pain-alleviating medication.

How long does wisdom tooth pain last?

Wisdom tooth pain can occur when the tooth is emerging through the gum, causing minor inflammation and also when it knocks into neighbouring teeth. When wisdom teeth emerge, the pain may last anywhere from a few days to a week and can be numbed through topical medication. If, however, the pain persists, you should visit your dentist.

If you have had your wisdom teeth removed, the pain can last up to two weeks but should gradually get better as each day passes and your mouth begins to heal.

I have a broken tooth, but no pain?

In some cases, you may chip or break your tooth and experience no pain. However, as more bacteria enters the cracked tooth, it will start to decay and infiltrate the pulp, which will cause severe discomfort. If you do damage your tooth, visit your dentist as soon as you can to have it filled or capped with a veneer or permanent crown.

Can braces cause tooth pain?

Yes, braces can cause tooth pain for up to two weeks after they are applied. This is a completely normal side effect as your teeth get used to their new housing. The application process of braces does not hurt, but pain medication can be taken as your teeth develop into your braces after they are fitted. Your dentist or orthodontist will provide you with instructions regarding your aftercare and brace maintenance routine.