Why Is My Tooth Hurting? The Causes Explained

Does your mouth hurt when you chew crunchy foods? Are your teeth sensitive to hot or cold drinks? Do you find that you experience mouth pain at random times throughout the day and night?

Tooth pain is no fun at all. You want to feel better, but you don’t understand the causes of the pain that you feel.

There are many different reasons for dental pain, so if you find yourself asking “Why is my tooth hurting?” you’re not alone.

The answer to this question may vary; different ailments have different causes, and – no pun intended – you have to get to the root of these problems if you want to find relief.

Read on to learn more about tooth pain. Find out why your teeth might hurt and what you can do about it to feel better.

Why Is My Tooth Hurting? Possible Reasons to Consider

If you have a toothache, it can probably be traced back to one of the following sources. In some cases, your tooth pain may be due to more than one of these issues working together. If you’re wondering “why is my tooth hurting?” then consider the following possibilities. Once you identify the cause of the issue, then you can start determining a course of action to stop the pain.

Tooth Decay

A very common cause of oral pain is tooth decay. Teeth are covered with an enamel coating that protects them. On top of the enamel is a layer of plaque that contains bacteria. When we eat and drink foods with lots of sugar, the bacteria create acid that breaks down the enamel.

As a result, brown and white spots appear on the teeth, and a person may feel pain when drinking hot or cold beverages.

If you experience pain when consuming hot or cold fluids, the cause of your tooth pain may be tooth decay. There are a number of treatments that can help including fluoride treatments and other common dental procedures like fillings, crowns, root canals, and in a worst-case scenario, tooth extractions.

The best way to avoid this type of pain is to avoid tooth decay altogether by changing your habits.

Cracked or Impacted Teeth

If you experience severe tooth pain that came on suddenly, you may have a cracked tooth. There are many ways that you can crack a tooth. Often, cracks in teeth occur due to a sudden injury or due to grinding of the teeth at night or during the day. A dentist can fix a cracked tooth with a crown. Unfortunately, unlike bone, your cracked tooth will not heal itself.

You might remember the feeling of an impacted tooth from when you were small. An impacted tooth is a tooth that is growing but that has not yet broken through your gum line. Adults often experience the pain of impaction when their wisdom teeth are coming in.

While you wait for your tooth to finish growing, there are many home remedies that can help. Many people find some relief by using a saltwater rinse, crushed garlic or ginger, cold or hot packs, or any number of essential oils for toothache.

Dental Erosion

Another of the common causes of tooth pain is simple dental erosion. This condition is similar to tooth decay but the breakdown of the teeth is not caused by bacteria in this case. Instead, it’s acid that does the evil deed.

If you eat and drink a lot of acidic foods and beverages, your teeth might be slowly eroding. Fruits, carbonated beverages, and alcohol can damage the enamel on your teeth. If you suffer from GERD or acid reflux, the acid in your body may be playing a part too.

The best way to combat dental erosion is to change your diet. Of course, a dentist can repair your teeth using bonding or crowns, but unless you change your consumption habits, dental erosion will continue.


If you have ever seen a diagram of a tooth, you know that there are nerves and blood inside each one. This center part of our teeth is known as the pulp, and sometimes the pulp can become inflamed. This condition is known as pulpitis.

Pulpitis is caused by a number of different causes. Grinding of the teeth, participation in sports like hockey or boxing that may include impacts to the mouth, a high sugar diet, or bad oral hygiene can all lead to this often very painful condition.

In some cases, this internal inflammation is reversible, but sometimes it is not. The faster you get treatment, the more likely the chances that the condition will be able to be reversed. If it turns out your pulpitis is irreversible, your dentist will likely treat it with a drainage and a filling or a root canal.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, can also be a cause of tooth pain. Not everyone with gum disease experiences pain, but some people who have it find that their gums are swollen, red, and tender, and that they sometimes bleed after brushing. They may also experience loose teeth or bad breath.

If left unchecked and untreated, gum disease will only continue to worsen, and in time, the affected individual may lose some of his or her teeth. There are a number of treatments for gum disease, but if you have any of the above symptoms, see your dentist right away. He or she will likely refer you to a periodontist and you can begin working to overcome this disease.

A Dental Abscess

An abscess is a painful, bacterial infection. When one occurs in your mouth, that means that pus has formed and expanded in one of your teeth, in your gums, or in your mouth bones. An abscess can cause a feeling of throbbing pain and can become more painful when chewing. The pain may extend into the ear, jaw, and neck as well.

If you have a dental abscess, a dentist can help you by draining it, by performing a root canal, or by pulling the affected tooth. You’ll also be prescribed antibiotics to keep the abscess from coming back again.

Go Visit Your Dentist Today

If you have any of the above conditions or think that you might, you should go visit a dentist right away. Many people are nervous about going to the dentist, but you shouldn’t be; your dentist wants to help you feel better and will do whatever it takes to help you feel at ease. If you’re sitting around wondering, “Why is my tooth hurting?” then it’s time to go get it checked out.

To read more great articles about health, please check out the Health section of our site.