What are the Causes of Teeth Pain?

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  • Written By: Madeleine A.
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Causes of teeth pain include cavities, tooth infection, sinus infection, and impacted wisdom teeth. In addition, sensitive teeth, teeth grinding, and migraines can cause teeth pain. A comprehensive dental and medical examination is generally recommended to determine the causes of teeth pain. Frequently, when a dental examination and x-rays prove negative, the cause of teeth pain is thought to be medical in nature. Since the advent of tooth whitening procedures, and over-the-counter tooth whitening products, complaints of tooth sensitivity and pain are becoming more frequent.

Frequently, infection, whether related to the teeth or to the sinuses, can cause significant teeth pain, as well as facial pain. Typically, when a bacterial infection is treated with antibiotics and resolved, the pain subsides. When the source of infection is viral, however, as is common with sinus infections, antibiotics are ineffective. In addition, teeth grinding is a common occurrence and frequently affects those who are under stress. The dentist can recommend a mouth appliance that is worn at night to prevent grinding and relieve subsequent pain.


Cavities can sometimes cause teeth pain, especially when they are extensive or deep. In these cases, the nerves of the tooth are often involved, and even neighboring teeth can be affected. This is called "referred pain." Sometimes, it is challenging to determine which tooth is producing the pain because a number of teeth are involved in referred pain. The dentist typically will probe each tooth with a special instrument to determine which one elicits the most pain. Only then can he make a diagnosis and recommend a plan of care.

Treatment for teeth pain includes over-the-counter pain relievers such as anti-inflammatory medications and acetaminophen analgesics. Although these medications usually provide only temporary relief from tooth pain, they can keep the patient comfortable until he sees a health care professional. It is important for people to realize that sometimes tooth pain, especially pain that originates from the left lower jaw, can indicate heart problems. Sometimes, chest pain, or angina can travel from the heart up to the jaw and teeth. When this occurs, the individual needs to seek emergency care because this could signal a heart attack or blocked artery. When treated quickly, cardiac damage can frequently be avoided, or kept to a minimum.


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