Dental Health

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A toothache is generally the result of dental cavities (tooth decay) or sometimes an infection. Tooth decay is often caused by poor dental hygiene, although the tendency to get tooth decay is partly inherited.

Sometimes, pain in other locations is perceived as occurring in the teeth (this is called referred pain or radiating pain).


A toothache is a pain in or around the tooth.

You should call your dentist if:

  • there is a persistent (longer than a day or 2) or severe toothache.
  • there is a fever, earache, or pain upon opening the mouth wide.

Note: The dentist is an appropriate person to see for most causes of toothaches. However, if the problem is referred pain from another location, you may need to see your primary health care provider.


Over-the-counter pain medications may be used while waiting to see the dentist or primary health care provider.

For toothaches caused by a tooth abscess, the dentist may recommend antibiotic therapy and other treatments, like root canal.

To prevent tooth decay, use good oral hygiene. A low sugar diet is recommended along with regular flossing, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and regular professional cleaning. Sealants and fluoride applications by the dentist are important for preventing tooth decay.

Prevention / Risk Factors

Common causes for a toothache are:

  • Tooth decay
  • Abscessed tooth
  • Earache
  • Injury to the jaw or mouth
  • Heart attack (can include jaw pain, neck pain, or toothache)
  • Sinusitis

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