Sudden Tooth Pain? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

Sudden Tooth Pain? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

Posted by Afshin Vahadi Apr 30, 2023

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Toothaches are no fun. You never know when your next bout will be, and it's always tough to predict its cause. It could be something simple, like a cavity, or something more complex. Knowing a few of the most common causes of tooth pain can help you better prepare for a toothache emergency in the future.

Temperature sensitivity

Temperature sensitivity is a common cause of sudden tooth pain. A hot or cold drink can irritate a sensitive tooth and cause a sudden onset of discomfort. If your teeth are sensitive to extreme temperatures, try using a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth before brushing with it and rinsing with fluoridated mouthwash. This can help desensitize the nerves in the exposed roots.

If the sensitivity is caused by a crack or cavity, you may need a filling or a root canal. However, if the symptoms are severe, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible. Since temperature sensitivity can be a symptom of underlying issues like gum disease or an infection, it's important to get the problem treated before it worsens and causes additional symptoms.

Gum recession

If you're experiencing sudden tooth pain, it might be due to gum recession. Your teeth are responsible for a lot when it comes to eating and speaking. Every time you put something into your mouth, you're putting an immense amount of pressure on your teeth, which can cause them to become sensitive over time.

If you've noticed your gums have receded or if you can feel the roots of your teeth when you run your tongue along them, this is a sign of gum disease that can be treated by your dentist.


Just like other parts of our body, our teeth are vulnerable to damage from excessive wear and tear. Your teeth are made for chewing food, not for crunching hard substances like ice cubes and bite toys. If you've noticed that your teeth are more sensitive than usual to changes in temperature—like cold drinks or ice cream—you may have fallen victim to erosion. Over time, repeated exposure to acidic foods and drinks can break down the enamel that protects your tooth from decay. Although occasional exposure may not cause damage, consistent exposure can lead to erosion and cause you to lose valuable enamel.

If you notice that your teeth have a distinct yellowish tint, it may be the result of a type of erosion known as the intrinsic stain. This type of stain occurs when the underlying dentin of your enamel becomes exposed as a result of a loss of the outer layer of the enamel. 

Other signs that you may have experienced erosion include worn-down edges of your teeth and a visible hollow in your gums near the areas where your teeth meet. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it's a good idea to schedule a visit with us as soon as possible so that we can work with you to find the underlying cause of your symptoms and develop a treatment plan that will keep you smiling for years to come!


If you experience a sudden onset of pain when eating something hot or cold, it could mean you have a cavity and should see your dentist as soon as possible. The decay may not yet be visible on the X-ray, so the dentist will need to probe the tooth with a sharp instrument to check its health. Treatment for the cavity could include the placement of filling material or a dental crown, depending on the severity. If left untreated, the decay could travel into the inner pulp of the tooth and cause an infection. This can lead to the destruction of a tooth and require extraction.

Gum Infection

If you experience sudden or severe toothaches, it may indicate you have an infection in your gums. While infections are rare in adults, they occur most often after procedures like tooth extraction and gum disease treatment. If your jaw is sore and painful to the touch, it could be a sign of an infection as well. A mouth infection can also cause fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, and fatigue.

Jaw Clenching

If you experience frequent jaw pain, it might be due to your habit of clenching or grinding your teeth at night. Teeth grinding is a common problem for many people, especially those who have anxiety. The condition is called bruxism. The enamel on your teeth is very thin and can be easily worn down by excessive teeth-grinding, which can cause cracks to form on the teeth, as well as possible fractures in the root of the tooth or the jawbone, leading to even more pain and sensitivity. If you suspect that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about treatment options. You can help prevent damage to your teeth and jaw joint by avoiding chewing gum, hard candies, and ice to reduce your risk of chipping a tooth. Your dentist can also provide you with a mouthguard to wear when you sleep that will protect your pearly whites from further damage.

Talk to your dentist at your next appointment and let them know what your concerns are, and then work with them to find a solution.

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