Also known as: pulpitis.

What is toothache?

The term toothache refers to pain that comes from an inflammation of the pulp (pulpitis) inside a tooth (this contains the nerves which cause the pain).

What causes toothache?

The most common causes of toothache are:

  • tooth decay/cavities
  • a tooth abscess
  • a crack in the enamel covering of a tooth
  • gum infection (gingivitis)
  • pain from food being stuck between teeth causing pressure on a tooth.

What are the symptoms of toothache?

The most common symptom is a constant throbbing pain in or around a tooth, which worsens when the tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures.

What are toothache care options?

Toothaches can often be prevented with good dental hygiene, including regular brushing/flossing. Most toothaches will need to be treated by a dentist which may involve decay/cavity cleaning and/or filling, tooth extraction, draining of an abscess or removing the nerve in the tooth by a “root canal” treatment.

Over-the-counter pain relievers will help with the pain and antibiotics may be indicated.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: June 25, 2021 01:39 PM

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A tooth extraction is just another way to say that a tooth is removed, or pulled, from the mouth. Learn more


Dental filling or restoration is a treatment to restore function, integrity and shape of the tooth structure, preventing further decay and destruction of the tooth. Learn more