Toothache Troubles: Knowing When It’s an Emergency

Toothache Troubles: Knowing When It’s an Emergency

We’ve all been there. That throbbing, piercing agony in our mouths that never goes away. It’s toothaches. Common causes include cavities, gum disease, and impacted teeth. Not all toothaches are equal. Some are bothersome, while others? One may spell out an emergency.

Emergency? Over toothache? Yes, indeed! When your toothache becomes a health danger, you must know. Recognizing a toothache as an emergency may improve your oral and general health.

This article explains how to determine whether dental emergency treatment is needed. Let’s begin!

Types of Toothaches

Before diving into the details of toothache emergencies, let’s first understand the different types. There are mainly three kinds: sharp pains, dull aches, and throbbing pain.

Sharp Pain

Sharp pain toothaches are intense, stabbing sensations that can strike out of nowhere. They are usually localized to a specific area and last for seconds or minutes. This type of pain often indicates tooth decay or a loose filling.

Toorak Emergency Dental Services offers quick and lasting relief for sharp pain toothaches. Their emergency dentists are available 24/7 to address your dental needs promptly.

Dull Ache

On the other hand, dull ache toothaches are more persistent but less severe than sharp pains. The discomfort can range from mild to moderate and is often caused by tooth sensitivity, gum disease, or a cracked tooth.

Throbbing Pain

Throbbing pain toothaches are the most severe type of toothache. They come in waves of intense pain that can last for hours. This type of pain usually shows an abscessed tooth or an infection.

Common Causes of Toothaches

Now that we know the different types of toothaches, let’s move on to their common causes. Understanding what’s behind your toothache can help determine whether it’s an emergency.

Tooth Decay

The most common cause of tooth pain is dental decay. It occurs when the tooth’s enamel breaks down, exposing the nerve endings in the tooth. If the decay progresses far enough, it can reach the pulp or the root of a tooth, causing severe pain. You can prevent this type of toothache by practicing good oral hygiene habits, such as brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontitis, is a bacterial infection affecting the gums and bones supporting teeth. It can cause inflammation, bleeding, and, ultimately, tooth loss. In the early stages, gum disease may not produce any symptoms, but tooth pain and discomfort can occur as it progresses. If you suspect you have gum disease, schedule an appointment with your dentist or periodontist immediately to prevent further damage.

Tooth Fracture

A tooth fracture can occur due to injury, biting down too hard on something, or decay. The severity of a tooth fracture can vary, but if the fracture reaches the root, it can cause significant pain. If you suspect that you have a tooth fracture, see your dentist as soon as possible. Ignoring a fracture can lead to nerve damage or tooth loss.

Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is caused by exposed dentin, which is the layer of the tooth below the enamel. Dentin can be exposed to excessive grinding or brushing, receding gums, or decay. Tooth sensitivity is often characterized by a sharp, sudden pain when eating or drinking hot or cold foods or beverages. This type of toothache typically responds well to desensitizing toothpaste or fluoride treatments.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth can cause severe pain and infection. Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to come in, and there is often not enough room in the mouth for them. They can become impacted, so they cannot break through the gums. If you are experiencing pain in the back of your mouth, you may have impacted wisdom teeth. Your dentist can take an X-ray to determine if this is the case.

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Symptoms That Accompany Emergency Toothaches

Untreated toothaches can escalate into severe conditions that require emergency dental care. If you are experiencing severe toothaches and other symptoms, knowing when to seek immediate dental attention is important. Here are some symptoms that can accompany emergency toothaches.

Swollen gum

If you are experiencing a severe toothache accompanied by a swollen gum, you are more likely dealing with an abscessed tooth that has worsened. An abscessed tooth is a severe condition that requires immediate dental attention. If left untreated, it can cause life-threatening complications such as meningitis, anemia, and sepsis.

High Fever 

You should seek immediate dental attention if you are experiencing a high fever or toothache. It is because a dental abscess can turn into a serious infection that might require hospitalization. A fever is a sign that the body is fighting off the infection, but if it becomes too high, it might spread to other body parts.

Difficulty Swallowing 

If you are experiencing difficulty swallowing accompanied by a toothache, you may have an abscessed tooth that has spread to the throat area. It can be a very dangerous condition that requires immediate dental attention.


If you are experiencing earaches that accompany a toothache, it may be due to a dental issue. This is because both the ears and teeth share nerves. If your tooth has an issue, the nerves can transmit the pain to the ear.


If you are experiencing a headache accompanied by a toothache, you might have a sinus infection. A sinus infection can cause pain in the upper teeth, which may make you think that the tooth is the problem. If headaches accompany your toothache, it’s essential to consult your dentist to determine the real cause of the pain.

What to Do in a Dental Emergency

If you are experiencing a severe toothache accompanied by any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate dental attention. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to alleviate the pain and prevent further damage.

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to help reduce inflammation and clean out debris.
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen to help alleviate the pain.
  • Apply a cold compress to your cheek near the affected tooth to help reduce swelling and numb the area.
  • If you have a loose or cracked tooth, try to save it by gently placing it back in its socket and holding it in place with clean gauze or cloth.

Remember, seeking immediate dental attention is crucial in a dental emergency. Ignoring the pain or attempting to solve it alone can lead to further damage and complications. Call your dentist right away and explain the symptoms you are experiencing.


Toothaches are more than a mere inconvenience. They are often a warning sign of underlying dental issues that need immediate attention. From dental decay, gum disease, tooth fractures, and sensitivity to impacted wisdom teeth, each comes with its unique symptoms and requires specific treatment. It’s essential to remember that in the face of severe toothaches, especially when accompanied by symptoms like swollen gums, high fever, difficulty swallowing, earaches, or headaches, seeking immediate dental help is crucial.

In the interim, some home remedies, such as rinsing with warm salt water, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and applying a cold compress, can help manage the pain. However, these are not long-term solutions. Professional dental care is necessary to treat the root cause. Regular dental check-ups prevent most of these dental issues from escalating. So, taking care of your oral health should be as important as your overall health because oral health is integral to overall health.