Toothache Symptoms: When Do You Need to Go to the Dentist?.


    Posted by Dr. William Linger, DDS, MAGD

     toothache symptoms

    A toothache can range from annoying to incapacitating. Sometimes it's so mild you can simply avoid chewing on that side and never notice it; in other cases you can barely sleep because the pain is sharp and constant. 

    The actual toothache might be the first time you notice you have a problem with your tooth, but there are other toothache symptoms that may show up before, during, or after you experience pain in the tooth itself.

    The earlier we detect a problem with your teeth, the less expensive and time-consuming the treatment will be. This is why it's important to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you notice any of these common symptoms associated with toothache:

    Pain in the Teeth

    This pain could be sharp, dull, random, or constant. You might notice it when you eat something cold or when you chew something hard. It might be so sensitive that you feel it when you brush or floss.

    A toothache is usually an indication of a problem that needs professional attention. However, in some cases, it might be as simple as some food stuck between your teeth! That can create pressure on the neighboring teeth, which leads to discomfort. If the pain doesn't go away in a couple of days, it's a good idea to see your dentist.

    Sensitive or Bleeding Gums

    This is often an early sign of gum disease. Inflammation of the gums is a sign of infection that can ultimately destroy the gum tissue and even the bone.

    It is possible to have gum disease without experiencing any symptoms, but if you notice that your gums red, sore, swollen, or bleeding, you should see a dentist as soon as possible. Gum disease has a variety of risk factors, including family history and a history of smoking, but it can often be prevented with good oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings.

    Bad Breath or Bad Taste in the Mouth

    If you brush your teeth and the bad breath goes away, this probably isn't a concern. However, chronic bad breath can be an indication of something more serious, like tooth decay or infection in your mouth.

    A bad taste you can't get rid of is another sign of infection or an abscess. With an abscess, you might even notice a terrible-tasting liquid in your mouth if the abscess happens to rupture.

    Loose Teeth

    Unless you're a child losing his or her baby teeth, or you just experienced trauma to your mouth, your teeth should not feel loose. If they do, it may be a sign of advanced gum disease.

    As infection causes the gums to recede, it can start to wear away at the bone, as well; your teeth end up losing their sturdy foundation. Since that bad bacteria can also move into other parts of your body, advanced gum disease is a serious concern and you should contact your dentist right away. Hopefully we can catch it before it gets to this point.


    This is an extreme symptom that could be a sign of an abscess. It may be accompanied by swollen gums or trouble chewing and swallowing. When you have an abscess, we first have to treat the infection; then we generally perform a root canal or a tooth extraction. Removing the tooth is usually not necessary, but if it is, you can consider replacing it with an implant

    There are a variety of treatment options for your toothache, depending upon your unique situation and what is causing the pain. Dr. Linger strives to make the experience as comfortable as possible, and we're always happy to answer your questions about your treatment options. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, please contact us and schedule an appointment. 

    Topics: Dentistry, Dental Health

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