Toothache Pain: When does it become Something to Worry About?

Toothache Pain: When does it become Something to Worry About?

by Yenny (SU)

How can one tiny tooth affect your entire being? To be sure, a great way to ruin you day is to have a toothache. But when does toothache pain become something to worry about? And when is it time to seek medical attention? Here are some of the most common causes of toothache pain, and recommendations when you should start to worry and call your physician.

Tooth Decay Caries the Day

Cavities – or “caries” – are the most common form of oral disease known to man. They are the result of tooth decay, when bacteria eat away at your enamel leaving gaping holes in your teeth. When to worry? Left untreated, a cavity can destroy your tooth and kill the delicate nerves at its center and may result in infection at the root tip. Once this infection forms, it can only be treated with a root canal, surgery, or by extracting the tooth. 

Sinus Infection

If you have a toothache, it could very well be a sinus infection. That’s because the roots of your molars are located just below your maxillary sinuses. And when your sinuses start to swell up with an infection, the buildup of fluid and mucus can create pressure right below, on your teeth. When to worry? If you are one of the 28 million adults who suffer from sinus infections, you know first-hand that your inflamed, infected sinuses can make for a very painful dental experience. If you are prone to sinus infections, see your doctor right away before the infection spreads to your teeth.


Abscesses can occur when the root of a tooth becomes infected. This can happen in a number of ways, from a foreign object wedging itself near the root, to a cavity going too deep. When to worry? If your toothache throbs and there is a swollen area next to your tooth, it could be an abscess. Without treatment, the infection can spread to your sinuses, destroying bone and tissue along the way. Abscesses can also develop in cases of advanced periodontitis, or gum disease. A doctor can treat the abscess with antibiotics, but don’t delay. 

Cracked Tooth

That horrible moment when your tongue goes searching for a tooth that is no longer whole. Whether you have fallen victim to a hit to the face or a rogue peach olive pit, cracked teeth must be attended to as quickly as possible. When to worry? That cracked tooth could leave the root exposed or susceptible to infection. Best case scenario, the tooth can be repaired. Not necessarily the best case but a very viable solution may be a crown or implant if the tooth can no longer be saved.

Teeth Grinding

You may be experiencing tooth or jaw pain and not even realize the reason is because you grind or clench your teeth when you sleep. If the condition is chronic (and not the result of a bad day at work) then it is called bruxism. When to worry? If your teeth are starting to crack, your jaw hurts, you are fatigued, or you have headaches, you need to visit your dentist. Simple solutions such as night guards, or changing some of your habits like eliminating caffeine and stimulating TV before bed can also ease the grinding. 

Pain in the Jaw

Clicking, popping, locking. It is not a new dance craze. These are all symptoms of temporomandibular disorder – or TMD — which can cause pain in the jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. This can affect your teeth and can be very painful. When to worry? If the pain becomes so severe that you cannot chew or move your jaw, see a doctor who can offer a variety of treatments to correct this.

Oral Cancers

If you believe you might have oral cancer, you should see a doctor right away. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of worry. Certain pains, lesions, bleeding, and anything else out of the ordinary should be examined sooner than later, so that the best treatment options are explored sooner than later.

If you have a toothache, the best course of action is to seek expert medical care. If you live in or near the Eugene area, Dr. Ari Binder and the friendly staff of 360 Dental Group are committed to providing you personalized, lifelong dental care. If you would like to learn more, call 541-689-1645 today.