Child is showing the sore tooth to bendigo dentist

Toothache – How to stop and prevent tooth pain

Toothache can cause you grief.  At times they can be extremely painful and unbearable. Everyone encounters pain in the tooth at some point in their life, but most people don’t know how to avoid a sore tooth.

There are different ways you may be able to prevent toothache.  This information will help you to protect your teeth, stop tooth pain and keep your teeth healthy in your mouth forever.

 Causes for sore tooth

1. Hole in the tooth: The most common cause of a toothache is teeth cavities. In most instances, the hole starts on the chewing surface of the tooth or in-between teeth.

Initially, it begins on the enamel, which is the outer surface of a tooth. At this stage, you won’t feel any discomfort. Then the hole will become larger and reach the next layer of the tooth.

Dentine is the next layer found after enamel. If the hole spreads into dentin, you will feel sensitivity to hot, cold or acidic drinks and food. You may even feel sensitivity while brushing.

Then, the hole will become larger and reach the nerve chamber or pulp. The nerve chamber is the middle part of the tooth and contains lots of nerves and blood vessels.  Once the cavity reaches the nerve, the bacterial toxins will irritate and infect the nerve.

The irritation of the nerve will cause a severe toothache. The pain may vary from sharp to throbbing pain. It can last a long time, and you may need to take medication to reduce the toothache.

2. Acidic food and drinks:  Sports drinks, energy drinks, fizzy drinks, concentrated fruit juice and some foods have a high concentration of acid.

The acid will dissolve the teeth surfaces. Eventually, the nerve will become exposed and will cause a lot of pain.

3. Acidic content from the stomach: Some people experience gastric reflux and regurgitation. Stomach juice has very high concentration of acid. When the stomach content reaches the mouth, the acid will dissolve the teeth surface, layer by layer.

The other cause is self-induced vomiting or bulimia. People who have binge eating disorders or body image and weight concerns are most likely to induce vomiting. Self-induced vomiting is more common in teenage girls.  The induced vomit will soak the teeth and slowly dissolve the teeth surface.

Eventually, the teeth will become thin, and the bacteria in the mouth will enter the nerve chamber (dental pulp) and infect the nerve and cause sore tooth.

Other Causes

4. Gum Disease: Gum disease will destroy the gum and the bone underneath the gum. The teeth will become loose, and you will have an aching tooth, especially when chewing food. Eventually, the bacteria will travel to the roots and infect the teeth. The infection will cause pain and agony.

5. Dental abscess: Teeth infection from the holes will move to the roots and spread to the surrounding bone and tissue area. The pressure from the abscess and bacterial toxin will make the teeth and surrounding area sore.

6. Erupting tooth: When the teeth try to come through the gum, the tooth will press the gum. The pressure will cause discomfort in that area. It mainly happens in children when their teeth come through or erupt. This discomfort will go away after a short period.

7. Accidents while playing sportsTeeth may get knocked or bumped while playing games. There won’t be any fracture on the tooth, but the knock may cause the tooth to die. The nerve chamber will get infected and cause pain and swelling.

Sometimes the teeth will break, and the pulp may get exposed. The bugs will enter the nerve chamber and infect the tooth and cause a toothache. Wearing a sports mouth guard while playing will minimise the fracture and infection.

8. Wisdom teeth: When a wisdom tooth erupts, in most cases, there won’t be enough space in that area for the wisdom tooth to come through. The tooth will become impacted, and food will get trapped in that area.

Cleaning this area is difficult and can lead to cavities and very painful gum infection. Sometimes the germs will spread to the surrounding tissue area. It makes the mouth, difficult to open and causes a lot of discomforts.

9. Tooth fracture: Grinding and clenching the teeth will cause the teeth to wear out. It can cause the tooth to chip and break. The pulp will get exposed, infected and cause tenderness.

10. Crowded teeth: Crowded teeth areas are difficult to clean, particularly in between teeth. Food will get caught in between the teeth and cause cavities or caries, which can lead to gum infection and agony. Braces will remove the crowding.

Toothache Signs and Symptoms

  • If the infection in the initial stage, you will experience teeth sensitivity or a mild unpleasant feeling in your mouth. Hot, cold, acidic drinks and food will trigger the uncomfortable sensation. It may last for a few seconds.
  • If the infection reaches the pulp or nerve chamber, you will have an aching tooth. The severity of the disease in the nerve chamber will determine the intensity of the pain.
  • If there is a moderate infection, you will have short, sharp, intermittent, electric or shooting pain. It may last a few seconds to about 10-15 minutes.
  • Later the intensity of the pain will increase to throbbing pain. It will radiate from the mouth to head, ear and neck region. You may feel that you have a headache, earache or neck pain. At this stage, you won’t be able to pinpoint the painful tooth, and you would feel that your whole face is throbbing.
  • The throbbing pain is the worst type of toothache pain. Sometimes you’ll feel like your head is exploding and you may have to take stronger painkillers. Once the painkiller’s effect wears off, the pain will come back again.
  • If the infection inside the tooth is significant, it will spread to the root and the surrounding areas. At this stage, the pain will be a continuous dull ache. You would be able to pinpoint the tooth, and it will be tender to touch and painful while chewing food.

Sometimes the tooth pain will only last for a few days and then disappear. This leads people to think that the tooth has recovered from the infection, but this is not true. It is because the nerve or pulp in the tooth has died and therefore you will not feel any pain.

Later the bacteria in the nerve chamber will multiply and produce a massive amount of infection, which will spread to the surrounding tissues and cause continuous agony. Later it will turn into an abscess and can cause swelling in the face, jaw, cheek and lips

Remedy or Cure for Tooth pain

If the discomfort or sensitivity is mild, see your local or an emergency dentist. Most of the time, placing a filling in the tooth will bring it back to normal and free of trouble.

If you have a moderate, dull and continuous ache, you can take painkillers or anti-inflammatory tablets to relieve the pain. Before you take any medication, please check with dentists, doctor or pharmacist.

If the pain is severe or throbbing, or you have an abscess, you may need to take stronger medication. You have to see a medical professional for a prescription. They will decide what type of medicine to prescribe.

Toothache drops, mouthwash and some inhalers are available at the chemist and shops. There is not enough clinical evidence to support or recommend this as a remedy for sore teeth. Speak to your pharmacist before purchasing any of these products.

For moderate to large infections, taking medication won’t remove the infection. You have to seek dental treatment to remove the cause. If the tooth is infected, there is no simple fix. To remove the infection permanently, you have two options. The first option is if you want to keep the tooth you have to do root canal treatment. The second option is to pull the infected tooth out.

How to prevent a toothache

  • Regular brushing- Brush your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
  • Flossing- Brushing will only clean the chewing surface and sides of the teeth. It won’t clean in between the teeth very well. Flossing is the best option to clean in between teeth. Floss at least once a day.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste- Fluoride makes the surface of the teeth hard. Please read our fluoride page for more information.
  • Reduce acidic food and drinks- Minimising your acid drinks intake will also reduce the chances of getting holes.
  • Reduce your sugar intake- Sugar is the leading cause for cavities. Limit the intake of sugary drinks and food.
  • Visit your dentist regularly-  If the dentist finds the hole at an early stage, they can place dental fillings and prevent teeth pain. They will also remove the tartar and prevent gum disease. Taking dental x-rays when you go for your check up and dental cleaning will reveal any hidden cavities, which you or your dentist can’t see.


Get your teeth and mouth checked every six months.  Regular check up of your teeth and mouth can minimise extensive dental treatments such as surgical extractions, root canal fillings, teeth implants and dental bridge.

It is essential to see your dentist when you feel a slight discomfort in your mouth. Don’t wait for the pain to become worse. If you see the dentist in time, they may be able to take care of the problem at an early stage. If you leave it, the problem will become worse and can also cause you a lot of pain, agony and inconvenience.

Keep in mind; oral health is an essential factor for your healthy life and beautiful smile and appearance.

We hope the tips mentioned above will help you to prevent a sore tooth. Carrying out these simple tips will assist you to avoid sore teeth in the future.

If you have any questions, please contact our dentist in Bendigo. They will be happy to answer any of your questions.