5 Causes Of Tooth Pain Aside From Cavities

Dr. Christopher Li Etobicoke - Li Family Dental

By Dr. Christopher Li, DDS

August 25, 2020

autoimmune disease, cavities, tooth infection, tooth pain

Tooth pain can be impossible to live with even when it is not severe. While cavities are a common cause of tooth pain, there are many other causative issues, not all of which are directly related to dental health. Here we list five common causes of tooth pain, some of the symptoms, and how we can help make you comfortable.

1. Fractured Tooth 


Tooth fractures such as cracks can be caused by many things, including:5 Causes of Tooth Pain Fractured Tooth - Li Family Dental

  • Teeth grinding
  • Weakened or old fillings
  • Biting something hard
  • A blow to the mouth
  • Abrupt changes in temperature
  • Wear and tear

Cracks and fractures can appear as lines, clearly missing chunks from your tooth, splits, or root fractures that extend below the gum line. 


Common symptoms would include:

  • Pain when chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity, especially to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks
  • Pain that comes on suddenly but doesn’t continue
  • Swelling around the painful area

If you have any of these symptoms, give us a call and we can provide a diagnosis.


We will assess the pain and let you know what treatment is required, including:5 Causes of Tooth Pain Dental Crown - Li Family Dental

In severe cases, where the roots and nerves are involved, we might recommend extraction. There might also be cases where no treatment is required as the fracture is too small to address. However, in these cases, pain is often infrequent and minimal.

2. Tooth Sensitivity 


Common causes of tooth sensitivity include:

  • Thinning or thinner tooth enamel, either naturally or due to wear and tear5 Causes of Tooth Pain Tooth Sensitivity - Li Family Dental
  • Aggressive tooth brushing
  • Hard toothbrushes
  • Teeth grinding
  • Acidic drinks and beverages
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Gastroparesis
  • Bulimia
  • Gum recession
  • Tooth decay, broken teeth, chipped teeth, and worn-down fillings or crowns
  • Temporary sensitivity caused by dental work, especially whitening

Tooth sensitivity can be temporary, it can come and go, or become chronic. 


Tooth sensitivity, also known as “dentin hypersensitivity,” causes various levels of pain, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain. It can affect a single tooth, a few, or your entire mouth. It usually takes some form of stimulation to trigger the pain, including:

  • Hot or cold foods and beverages
  • Cold air
  • Sweet or acidic foods and beverages
  • Brushing, flossing or dental checkups
  • Alcohol-based mouth rinses

If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, set up an appointment as soon as possible. Often we can make recommendations that can provide quick relief.


We will determine the cause and recommend treatments that might include:

  • Addressing issues requiring restoration such as fillings
  • Recommending an over-the-counter sensitivity toothpaste5 Causes of Tooth Pain Sensitivity Treatment - Li Family Dental
  • Switching to an alcohol-free mouth rinse
  • Stopping use of over-the-counter whitening toothpaste and treatments
  • Switching to a soft toothbrush or using an electric toothbrush with a pressure alarm
  • Application of prescription-grade desensitizing agents
  • Advice on how to maintain proper oral hygiene habits to reduce sensitivity
  • Customized mouthguards if you grind your teeth at night

In the case your sensitivity is caused by an underlying medical condition we will recommend you see your doctor to get the proper treatment to help reduce symptoms.

3. Sinus Infections 


Sometimes tooth pain is caused by sinus pressure. If you have a sinus infection, the pressure can lead to unbearable 5 Causes of Tooth Pain Sinus Infection - Li Family Dentalpain in your teeth and mouth. Seasonal allergies can also cause sinus pain that puts pressure on your teeth. This is because when the tissue lining in the sinuses becomes blocked by fluid, it places pressure on your sinus cavities. Since your tooth roots are so close to your sinus cavities, the pressure causes pain.


It can often be difficult to separate symptoms that are strictly dental from sinus infection or allergy-related symptoms. With dental issues, chances are the pain is isolated in one area, while sinus-related pain tends to affect all your upper teeth. Symptoms would include:

  • Upper teeth pain
  • Pressure around the eyes or forehead
  • Bad-tasting nasal drip
  • Thick, green, or brown mucus
  • Ear pain
  • Sore throat
  • Reduced sense of smell and taste

In most cases, these symptoms overlap and can lead to discomfort not only in your teeth, but in your neck, face, and head.


While your doctor can determine if you have a sinus infection or allergies, we can assist in determining if this is, in fact, causing your tooth pain. Once you rule out dental issues, you can use the following to help reduce sinus-related pain:5 Causes of Tooth Pain Water Vitamin C - Li Family Dental

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Include more calcium, Vitamin C and Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet
  • Use a vaporizer to relieve sinus pressure
  • Use a nasal rinse to help remove discharge and reduce pressure

If pain continues, speak to your doctor about medical treatment options to resolve your sinus infection.

4. Oral Infections 


Oral infections such as a tooth abscess develop when bacteria builds up. When left unchecked, the infection creates a pocket of pus. This is often the result of decay that has reached the inner pulp of your tooth, but can also be caused 5 Causes of Tooth Pain Abscess - Li Family Dentalby an injury or aging dental work.


Symptoms of oral infections, specifically abscesses, include:

  • Severe, persistent, throbbing toothache
  • Pain in the jawbone, neck, or ear
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Sensitivity when chewing or biting
  • Fever
  • Swelling
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes
  • Foul taste and smell in the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

If you have any of these symptoms call our office immediately.


Once we determine you have an abscess, the infection must be removed. This might include:5 Causes of Tooth Pain Antibiotics - Li Family Dental

  • Draining the abscess
  • Performing a root canal
  • Tooth extraction
  • Prescribing antibiotics

If the infection is serious, antibiotics will stop further spread, allowing the infection to heal so proper restoration can begin for the tooth as needed. Extraction is only required when damage to the tooth and root is beyond repair.

5. Autoimmune Disorders 

Causes and Symptoms

There are many types of autoimmune disorders that can lead to dental pain. This is because they affect different aspects of your overall health, which in turn affects your oral health. This can include:

  • Issues with saliva production and dry mouth5 Causes of Tooth Pain Autoimmune Disorders - Li Family Dental
  • Issues that affect the GI tract or produce more stomach acids
  • Oral lesions
  • Issues with swallowing

All these health challenges can increase the risk of tooth decay, which in turn can lead to cavities and tooth pain. A visit to our office will determine what is causing the tooth pain so we can decide what treatment is required.


As with tooth sensitivity, the treatments will range from addressing tooth sensitivity to treatments for tooth restoration.

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, book an appointment immediately so we can help. Call 416-232-2033 or request an appointment by clicking here.

Dr. Christopher Li, DDS

About the author

Doctor Christopher Li, DDS
Dr. Chris, as he is affectionately known, is a licensed dentist with over 20 years experience. His caring personality makes even the most tentative person at ease. Patients are constantly commenting about how Dr. Chris is incredible at delivering pain-free freezing, and how he has an amazing chair-side manner.  Dr. Chris loves sharing information with his patients and everyone who has teeth about how to care for their teeth, avoid tooth decay, and the treatments available to help them overcome their tooth pain or other dental issues so they can enjoy life and food to its fullest!

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