What Your Toothache Could Be Telling You

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Toothaches can be extremely irritating, and the pain they cause can range from mild to unbearable. If you are experiencing tooth pain that is becoming hard to manage, that may be a signal of a bigger issue.

It’s important to listen to your body because it may pick up on something before you’re able to. And, you should always consult a dental professional if you are unsure of what may be causing your pain.

Valley Ridge Dental Centre is a proud provider of leading dental care in the NW Calgary area. If you are experiencing persistent toothaches and are unsure of what the cause is, contact our office today for a consultation. We can check to see if your toothache might be the result of a larger issue. But in the meantime, here are a few of the reasons why you may be suffering from a toothache:

Cavities or Tooth Decay

More often or not, toothaches are a sign of tooth decay or cavities. This could be due to a number of things like excess sugar intake, which causes bacteria growth. If there is too much bacteria in your mouth, it begins eating away at your enamel. This is the source of your pain.

Another reason you may be suffering from a toothache is dental trauma.

 These reasons include:

  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Dental abscesses
  • Wisdom teeth
  • Gum disease

You can even develop pain in your teeth because of a sinus or ear infection. 

Here are some home remedies that can ease your pain if you’re unable to see your dental provider immediately:

  • Gently floss the area that hurts and then rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any pieces of food that may be stuck between your teeth. 
  • Toothaches usually make your teeth more sensitive, so steer clear of substances that are too hot or cold. 
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to manage your pain until you get a chance to visit a dentist.

Home remedies aside, let’s dive deeper into the causes of toothaches and what exactly you might be dealing with:

Impacted Tooth

An impacted tooth occurs when the tooth cannot move into the right position. This most commonly occurs with wisdom teeth because they emerge the latest and rub against other teeth and gums.

Your jawbone is not equipped to handle these additional teeth, and you might be experiencing overcrowding. This condition leads to pressure, soreness, and pain. It’s is one of the most common reasons for toothaches, and a dentist can quickly assess your mouth to see if this is the problem.

Gum Disease

Gum disease occurs when your gums become infected. In the case of gingivitis, your gums may feel hot, swell, or become red. If you do not treat gum disease then your gums can deteriorate.

If your gums separate from your teeth, that will create more space for bacteria to grow. This process also reveals the roots of your teeth and leaves them exposed to plaque. Then follows decay and tooth sensitivity


Bruxism, which is another name for teeth grinding, occurs when people clench their jaws. This usually happens during sleep through constant rubbing of the upper and lower teeth together. The habit can be difficult to break since people aren’t self-aware while sleeping.

Bruxism can cause tooth decay and pain, but it can also alter your facial muscles and bones. In severe cases, bruxism can lead to broken teeth or damaged restorative work you’ve previously had done. If you’re experiencing aches, check with your dentist to make sure it’s not bruxism. If it is, they will fit you with a night guard to stop the issue from escalating.


If tooth decay manages to reach into the pulp of your tooth, you may develop pulpitis. Pulpitis is when the tissue in your tooth’s center becomes irritated or inflamed. The inflammation then causes pressure build-up in your tooth and its surrounding tissue.

The primary symptom that people with pulpitis experience is sensitivity to hot or cold substances. The two types of pulpitis are reversible and irreversible pulpitis. With reversible pulpitis, aches diminish within seconds, but with irreversible pulpitis, aches are usually present for minutes at a time.

If you are experiencing symptoms of pulpitis, immediately contact your dental care provider. In less-severe cases, a simple filling can be the fix for this condition. In severe cases, a root canal may be necessary.

Dental Abscess

If a cavity or pulpitis is not treated and excessive amounts of bacteria build up in the pulp chamber of your tooth, this chamber will try to drain itself from the tooth root. This drainage causes a lot of pressure and pain that can worsen the longer it is left untreated.

It can be hard for you to tell on your own if the aches you are experiencing are due to an abscess, so consult with your dentist to find out if that’s why you are experiencing pain.

When You Should See a Doctor

You should always consult a dentist if you are experiencing any unexpected tooth pain or any of the following:

  • You haven’t had a routine cleaning in the last year. Getting a cleaning is one of the best ways to ensure your teeth are healthy.
  • You are experiencing sensitivity to hot or cold substances. 
  • You have bad breath that doesn’t seem to fade regardless of how strong your dental hygiene routine is.
  • You feel a tooth or several teeth becoming loose.
  • There are growing spaces between your teeth.
  •  Your gums are bleeding, receding, or swelling.
  • Your toothache is accompanied by a fever or swelling.

While it is possible to self-diagnose to an extent, there are some instances where it’s impossible to tell what’s causing your dental issue. Whether you have an idea of what the problem is or you don’t know at all, it’s vital that you consult a professional. Our dentist in NW Calgary will determine the root cause and develop the right treatment plan for you.

We are pleased to WELCOME YOU BACK! We are practicing SAFE DENTISTRY!

Rest assured that we have taken steps above what was required. After all, your health is our highest priority. We are finally OPEN and look forward to seeing you again soon!


  • When we speak with you regarding your appointment, we will be asking you additional screening questions. Patients who exhibit any symptoms will need to postpone their treatment.
  • When you arrive to your appointment, please wait in your car until your appointment time and bring as little as possible into the office with you.
  • If you have a mask or face covering, we encourage you to wear one to your appointment.
  • We will ask that you sanitize/wash your hands with soap and water upon entering the office and before leaving.
  • There will be a consent form for patients to sign upon arrival and we want you to know that the guidelines in place currently have staff member signing off on a daily consent that ensures they are ready and prepared to provide treatment in the safest possible way.

We want to assure everyone that our office takes the safety and health of our patients, their families, team members and doctors very seriously. Although our operations will be slightly different today than they were previously, we are excited to finally welcome you all back in a slow and safe manner.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time of transition to the new normal.

Your Dental Team