Do You Have Nagging Tooth Pain?

Boise man with tooth pain

Are you experiencing tooth pain? Whether it be a chronic ache or a sharp pain when you eat or drink, your Boise dentist is here to help!

Few things are more aggravating than tooth pain, but there are a variety of issues that could be causing your toothache. Let’s do some troubleshooting to understand what kind of pain you’re experiencing, what the cause might be, and what should be done about it.  


Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something isn’t right. Here are some of the most common symptoms for dental pain and what they might mean.  Compare your symptoms below with the potential sources in the next section.

  • Your experience: Sharp pain when chewing. 

    What it might be: Tooth decay, loose filling, or a cracked tooth.

  • Your experience: Constant oral pain.What it might be: An infection or abscess.
  • Your experience: Sensitivity to temperature (hot/cold).What it might be: Tooth decay, a loose filling, or gum disease.
  • Your experience: Dull ache or pain in the upper teeth, jaw, or ear.What it might be: TMD or Bruxism
  • Your experience: Lingering pain after eating.What it might be: Tooth decay, damaged filling or crown, or a cracked tooth.

Sources of Tooth Pain

Boise patient showing tooth pain

Tooth Decay

When oral bacteria feed on the sugars in your mouth, they create erosive acids that can eat through the enamel of your teeth and destroy the dentin within. Once the decay reaches the nerve of the tooth, pain can be the result.

Levels of tooth decay, and the subsequent treatment, can vary in its severity. Tooth decay can only be treated by a dentist, and the longer you wait, the worse it will get.

Loose/Lost Filling or Crown

A loose filling or crown can irritate your tooth and the soft tissues around it. A filling that isn’t doing its job can result in bacteria entering the crevices of the tooth (what the filling was meant to “fill”), and furthering tooth decay.

Whether the filling is lost or is simply loose, the nerve within the tooth can be affected, causing pain and discomfort. The sooner this is treated by a dental professional, the better.

A Cracked, Fractured, or Chipped Tooth

While patients are usually aware of a chipped tooth, sometimes cracks or fractures aren’t readily visible to the naked eye. Damaged teeth are susceptible to decay and infections. Bacteria can also enter the space created by a damaged tooth, causing decay and furthering the damage to the tooth.

A cracked, fractured, or chipped tooth needs to be seen by a dentist in order to properly fixed.

An Infection or Abscess

Infections can lead to the “death” of a tooth, and usually leads to an abscess. An abscess is a bacterial pocket of puss that forms beneath the nerve of a tooth, and can cause severe pain. Infections are very serious and should be promptly treated.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of your gums caused by plaque. Gum disease results in tooth loss in many adults. It’s not always painful, but gum recession is a result of this condition.

Other symptoms such as bad breath, an odd taste in your mouth, or gums that bleed easily might mean that you are suffering from gum disease. The early stages of gum disease, called gingivitis, can be reversed if treated soon.

TMD or Bruxism

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a hinge that connects your jaw to your skull right in front of the ear. Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) have various causes, from grinding or clenching teeth, whether it be from stress or bruxism (nighttime teeth grinding). This condition can result in significant pain around the joint, which often translates through the jaw.

Though not directly a dental condition, the associated grinding can be very damaging to surfaces of the teeth. A custom-fit night guard can be crafted by a Boise dentist to protect your tooth and mitigate the damage resulting from TMD.

See Your Boise Dentist Right Away

These oral symptoms and conditions are diagnostic possibilities, and aren’t a replacement for an evaluation by a professional. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with our Boise dental team right away.

You don’t have to live with nagging tooth pain – Dr. Wagner or Dr. Royce can help you be pain free!

Contact Modern Dental