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A toothache is a feeling of pain in a tooth itself or in the area around a tooth. While a cavity (also known as tooth decay) is often the reason for a toothache, there are different conditions that can cause it. Some possible reasons for a toothache range from a sinus infection or earache to a heart attack that may cause pain in your jaw. If your toothache does not go away, call your dentist. Your dentist will do some tests, including an x-ray to find out the reason for your toothache, and then can suggest ways to treat it.
A toothache is pain that is felt in the mouth or jaw from a problem with one or more teeth or the gums. Sensitivity or pain typically moves along the nerves in the center of the tooth, known as the pulp.
A toothache may be caused by:
- Dental decay. Bacteria and other organisms, often present in plaque that forms on the teeth, can result in tooth decay. Pain from decay may not develop until the late stages.
- Infection around the tooth.
- An impacted tooth. A tooth that does not break through the skin can cause pain and gum inflammation.
- Gum disease. Receding gums or unhealthy gums can lead to pain in and around the teeth.
- An injury to the pulp. Extreme sensitivity to temperatures or sweet or sour tastes can occur when the pulp has been injured or exposed by wear or the loss of a filling.
Although it is not as common, a toothache can be caused by a problem not related to the teeth, such as a sinus infection, shingles, or cluster headaches.
A toothache should be evaluated by a dentist right away to determine the cause of the problem and prevent the tooth from dying.
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