Toothaches and gum problems
are common but usually can be prevented by taking good care of your teeth and
gums. Keeping your
gums, and the bones around your teeth healthy requires regular brushing, flossing,
and good nutrition. Brush your teeth twice a day with an American Dental Association (ADA) accepted fluoride
toothpaste. Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner. For
more information on proper brushing and flossing techniques, see the topic
Basic Dental Care.
Sometimes you may have tooth pain when
you touch a tooth or when you eat or drink foods that are hot, cold, sweet, or
sour (a sensitive tooth). Mild sensitivity can be caused by shrunken (receded)
gums or a worn-down tooth. Moderate to severe sensitivity can mean a tooth has
cracked, a dental
cavity is present, or a
filling has been lost. Seeing a
dentist for treatment can prevent the tooth from
The most common cause of a toothache is
tooth decay , although a toothache may not be present in the early stages of
decay. Other reasons for a toothache might include:
- An infection of or around the tooth (abscess ). A red, swollen,
painful bump may be found near or on the side of the sore tooth. The tooth may
especially hurt when you bite down.
- A tooth that has not broken
through the gum (impacted tooth). Gums may be red,
swollen, and sore. The area around this tooth can ache, throb, and be quite
- Problems with or injury to the nerves in the center of
the tooth (pulp), which can be caused by an injury to the face or from grinding
or gnashing the teeth.
Sometimes a toothache can be caused by a another health
problem, such as:
are pink and firm and do not bleed easily. Occasionally your gums may bleed if
you brush your teeth and gums too hard, use a hard-bristled toothbrush, or snap
dental floss hard against your gums. Be gentle with your teeth—use a
soft-bristled toothbrush and floss carefully to help prevent bleeding gums.
Early-stage gum disease (gingivitis ) causes red,
swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed. Because gingivitis usually doesn't
cause pain, many people delay treatment. If not treated, gum disease can cause
more serious problems with the gum tissue.
As gum disease gets
worse, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving deep pockets where plaque can
hide and cause further damage. This stage of gum disease is called
periodontal disease and is caused by long-term
infection of the gums, bone, and other tissues that surround and support the
teeth. It can progress until the bones that support the teeth are damaged. In
this late stage, teeth may become loose and fall out or need to be removed.
Early treatment of gum disease is important to prevent tooth loss. As gum
disease gets more severe (periodontitis), it becomes harder to treat.