Almost everyone will experience a toothache at some point. Research shows that approximately 88 percent of adults report serious toothaches, and at least half the children in America suffer from tooth pain from time to time. Anyone who has already forged through a major toothache can testify to the misery it creates. In many cases, toothaches can extend well beyond the affected tooth, generating pain in the jaws, head, and neck. They can also make it difficult to sleep, concentrate, and maintain a sunny disposition.

Common Causes of Toothaches

Not all toothaches are the same. Some arise occasionally whereas others are ongoing issues. Certain types of dental pain are mild or moderate while others are virtually unbearable. Toothaches can be caused by numerous issues as noted by the team at South High Dental. Take a look at some of the most common reasons people experience dental pain.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is among the most common causes of dental pain. This happens when buildup on the teeth deplete the enamel, the hard outer layer of the teeth. Buildup starts by eating away the enamel and can gradually lead to cavities, or holes in the teeth. Decay is known to cause excruciating pain because it exposes the inner layers of the teeth and can allow bacteria to build up within the teeth, paving the way for serious infections. 


Infections are also well-known causes of dental pain. While they often accompany tooth decay, this issue doesn’t have to be present for an infection to develop. Infections arise when bacteria build up in teeth and in the gums. They can take on the form of abscesses, which are pockets of infection around the roots of the teeth. In many cases, those abscesses can lead to swelling of the jaw. In all cases, they tend to cause excessive pain. 

Broken Teeth

Broken teeth can lead to pain as well. If a tooth is cracked or broken, the dentin and pulp within can be exposed. In turn, everything from chewing to consuming cold or hot beverages can cause immense pain. Falls and biting hard objects are among the leading causes of broken teeth. Weakened teeth, such as those that are worn due to age or damaged by decay are typically more prone to breaking. Having new teeth growing in underneath existing ones can cause breaks as well.


In some cases, teeth don’t have to be seriously damaged to cause pain. Many people live with tooth sensitivity. It’s generally the result of teeth being more porous than they should be. Consuming acidic foods and beverages can increase sensitivity. People who are suffering from gum disease may also experience heightened tooth sensitivity. Those who use at-home tooth whitening kits often notice increased sensitivity as well. 

Dealing with Dental Pain

Considering the prevalence of toothaches, people are on a constant search for the best ways to prevent them. Some painful dental issues can’t really be prevented, but they can certainly be treated. Many people find relief from dental pain by using over-the-counter painkillers and topical creams or ointments designed to mitigate tooth pain. Toothpaste that specifically targets sensitivity can help as well. 

In truth, the most effective way to battle dental pain is to keep up with twice-annual dental visits. This will allow the dentist to catch problems early and take care of them before they become overly painful. Dentists can also help with already-existing dental issues and unexpected emergencies to keep pain at bay and minimize the damage caused by buildup, infections, and other issues.