Waterloo Emergency Dental Centre hears toothaches complaints on a routine basis. It is the most common dental concern. However, not all toothaches are the same, and the reason why you might be experiencing it might surprise you.

Grinding and clenching your teeth

Teeth grinding and clenching are very common reasons for tooth pain. People who grind their teeth generally do so while they’re sleeping or during stressful situations. This can result in sore jaw, headaches, neck and related muscle pain, worn enamel, and even cracked or chipped teeth, all of which can be very painful.

Damaged/failing filling

A broken filling can expose sensitive parts of your tooth. This can result in a pain that is anything from a dull ache to a sharp, piercing sensation. If you have a damaged filling, it should be fixed before the vulnerable parts of your tooth suffer further damage or decay.

Gum Disease

Gum disease often causes red, swollen and bleeding gums. The inflammation can also cause a dull toothache.

Temperature sensitivity

Temperature sensitivity is quite common.  It typically is a sharp tooth pain when eating or drinking something cold or hot. Usually this sensation lasts for only a few seconds. Most of the time we experience temperature sensitivity when we have worn enamel or root exposure.

Tooth fracture

Teeth that are fractured, chipped, or cracked can also become a source of pain.  Tooth fractures can be caused by an injury such as a hit to the face or by simply biting down on something hard. Teeth that have amalgam (“silver”) restorations are also more likely to develop cracks and fractures.   It is essential to see your dentist as soon as you notice even a small fracture as it can worsen quite quickly.

Tooth Abscess

An abscess is an infection in or around your tooth.  An infected tooth will have a pocket of pus form around its root.  Most of the time, this will result in a more widespread pulsating pain that may make it difficult to pinpoint the exact location the pain is coming from.  Tooth abscess pain often gets worse at night when lying down. This can also be accompanied by some swelling of the gum or a “pimple-like” lesion.  If the abscess is able to drain the level of pain may decrease, but you may notice a foul taste in the mouth and sometimes even a bad odour.

Tooth Decay

When most of us hear toothache, we think of cavities. Tooth decay can definitely cause pain and is the most common reason why we experience it. The deeper the decay, the more severe the symptoms. If the decay reaches the center of the toothprovided the pain will likely be quite intolerable.

Just like there are many reasons why a tooth may ache, there are many treatment options that might help.  The treatment will be based on the reason behind the pain and will aim to eliminate the discomfort and its cause.  Some common treatment options may include:

Seeing a dentist at the first sign of any trouble is ideal.  What seems to be a minor discomfort today may become excruciating pain tomorrow.  A prompt visit may also result in less invasive treatment options. IF you are experiencing severe pain, swelling or difficulty swallowing or opening your mouth see a dentist right away.  These can be signs of more serious dental issues that can potentially affect your overall wellbeing and even become life-threatening.

Don’t hesitate to contact Waterloo Emergency Dental Centre if you are experiencing a toothache or have any other dental concerns.


DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is no way offering a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation.  Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.