5 Common Causes of a Toothache

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Five common causes of a toothache

Over 40% of adults report experiencing varying levels of oral pain annually. Toothaches can have a wide range of causes, from a stubborn popcorn kernel to a cracked or abscessed tooth, and while not all oral pain needs treatment, it’s important to see your dentist if symptoms persist or worsen. 

Common Causes of Toothaches


Cavities, or tooth decay, are common dental problems that can lead to toothaches. Plaque buildup acts as a feeding ground for bacteria, which secrete acid that erodes teeth, leading to cavities. Decay can be painful, but most cavities can be treated quickly and easily by your dentist with a filling.


Gum disease, also known as gingivitis in the early stages, is a common oral irritant. According to the Canadian Dental Association, seven in ten adults will develop gum disease in their lifetime. Gingivitis is irritating the gums due to plaque and tartar build-up, which can lead to pain around the base of your teeth. While it can be mild initially, gingivitis can lead to serious oral issues like gum recession and possible tooth loss if left untreated.

Missing or damaged fillings 

If you’ve had cavities filled by a dentist in the past, they can also be the culprit of tooth pain. Fillings can come loose if you experience an impact on your head or jaw, and sometimes cavities can expand after being filled. Certain foods like sticky candy or crunchy vegetables can also loosen fillings.


Subconscious jaw clenching or grinding is a common cause of toothaches and can occur during the day or night. Grinding your teeth wears down the enamel over time, and clenching can cause muscle tension and pain in the jaw. Prolonged grinding and clenching may also lead to cracked or chipped teeth. If you experience frequent oral pain due to grinding, talk to your dentist about treatment options like overnight mouth guards.

Chipped or cracked teeth 

Like our other bones, teeth are not immune to damage from physical impact and trauma. Playground incidents, car accidents, or even a clumsy misstep can result in chipped or cracked teeth. Damage can vary from barely noticeable to extremely painful, and in some instances may even expose your dental nerve endings.

Toothaches are common issues and don’t always mean an emergency trip to your dentist. But ignoring problems like the ones listed above can lead to more serious oral concerns, like serious bacterial infections, the spread of decay, or late-stage gum disease.

Toothache Prevention

The best way to stop toothaches before they happen is to visit your dentist for regular cleanings and check-ups. Dr. Arash Ravanbakhsh and the team at Inglewood Family Dental can help with toothache treatment, prevention, and many other dental care needs in Calgary. ((Contact us)https://www.inglewoodfamilydental.ca/contact-us/) to set up your dental consultation today!