About Your Teeth What could be the cause of my toothache?

Q & A's

What could be the cause of my toothache?

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Tuesday February 9 is World Toothache Day – this does not mean that you should expect to wake up with a toothache nor does it mean you should wait until this day rolls around each year to get your toothache professionally examined.

Instead, it’s a reminder to put off ignoring a toothache and investigate the ‘root’ cause. The three most common causes of toothaches are:

Bacterial infections

Tooth decay or cavities are an infection caused by bacteria getting close to the nerve in the centre of the tooth. Bacterial fermentation of food debris on the surface of the tooth produces acid which destroys the hard tissues. Subsequent swelling of the tissues can cause the affected tooth to rise out of the socket, which increases the discomfort and pressure on the protruding tooth as you bite down.

Antibiotics may be administered to manage the bacterial infection, however it is important that you seek professional dental advice as soon as pain lasts longer than one or two days. Once the infection is under control, identification and treatment of dental infections, such as the removal of teeth or a root canal, is necessary to avoid its spread to other parts of the face, skull and possibly the bloodstream.

Referred pain

Non-dental related cause of toothache is known as ‘referred’ pain. Soreness and discomfort may appear in the cheekbones, jaw, skull or upper molar teeth, which can mislead you to believe that your pain is the result of a dental issue. Sinus infection most commonly presents like tooth pain. Dental professionals are able to properly identify the sources of toothache pain and either administer effective treatment solutions or refer you to an appropriate specialist.

Grinding / Bite problems

About one in three people suffer from bruxism, which is the technical term for grinding and clenching of the teeth and jaw that may cause pain and tooth changes. Sufferers unintentionally bite down too hard at inappropriate times, such as in their sleep. Commonly associated symptoms include hypersensitive teeth, headaches, aching jaw muscles, tooth wear, damage to dental restorations (e.g. crowns and fillings) and damage to teeth.

Dental occlusion, which is the position of and contact between the top and lower teeth when the jaws are closed, is another source of dental pain. Teeth mobility and severe pain can result from the position of the dental arches not correctly balancing when they come together, either at rest or whilst eating.

Both, however can be easily managed with the help and guidance of a dental professional.


This was posted by:
Dr Markijan Hupalo – Prosthodontist
Originally from Brisbane, Dr Hupalo is a Sydney-based Prosthodontist. He obtained his primary degree from Queensland University and graduated with Honours in 1988. He commenced his dental practicing career as a Dental Officer with the Royal Australian Air Force, where he worked for almost ten years. In 1996 he completed his military service and returned to Sydney to begin specialist training in 1996. He gained specialist registration in 1999 after graduating from the specialist clinical training programme in prosthodontics at the University of Sydney. He has a specialist private practice in Sydney with an international reputation for quality dental solutions and patient care. Apart from the traditional dental restorative solutions, Dr Hupalo has a special interest in adhesive dentistry and conservative dental solutions. Dr Hupalo holds a teaching appointment with the University of Sydney and is involved in Prosthodontic education at the undergraduate and post graduate level.  He is an advisor to tertiary institutions, industry and is a consultant to the legal profession. Visit: www.sydneyprosthodontics.com
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