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When Is Your Tooth Pain Cause for Concern?

It can be difficult to recognize when your tooth pain is a cause for concern. You may feel like you’re overreacting, or being a “wimp.” The truth, though, is that even mild tooth pain is sometimes an indication of something more serious.

Dr. Hannah Baek at Healthy Smile Dental is an expert in finding the cause of your tooth pain and providing relief as quickly as possible. At her office in Woodridge, Illinois, Dr. Baek offers emergency dentistry for all of life’s accidents, and she also provides other extensive services beyond traditional dentistry.

Sometimes an emergency dental appointment is warranted, but how can you know for sure if your tooth pain is a cause for concern? There are some key indicators to watch out for, which we’ll look at in this article.

What’s causing my tooth pain?

Toothaches and tooth sensitivity are both extremely uncomfortable. Understanding what’s causing your pain helps you avoid future trips to the dentist. Here are some of the most common reasons for your tooth pain.

Tooth decay

Tooth pain from tooth decay is usually caused by inadequate oral hygiene or poor nutrition. Eating or drinking too much sugar promotes bacterial growth between teeth. Combine that with infrequent brushing and flossing, and you have the perfect recipe for serious pain. 

Tooth decay symptoms may present as sensitivity to heat and cold, and sweet and sour. The pain may feel like a burning or an “electric” shock.


Your tooth pain may be radiating from inflamed gum tissue, which is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is what occurs when tooth decay goes untreated. Bacteria builds up between teeth and collects at the gumline and around tooth roots, causing inflammation or infection. 

This kind of pain requires expert help as soon as possible because it’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Symptoms include severe pain and sensitivity to cold.

Wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth are actually a third set of molars that humans don’t need. Some people have them, and some don’t, but they almost always need to be removed. When new teeth attempt to break through the gum’s surface, you’ll experience varying levels of pain from mild to severe. 

Pain from your wisdom teeth also travels, and you might notice dull, throbbing sensations in your jaw and around your ear. Wisdom teeth can also cause headaches, so there are many reasons to make an appointment with Dr. Baek right away if you think this is the cause of your discomfort.

Not every toothache is the same. During your appointment, Dr. Baek and her skilled team of dental specialists can narrow down the cause based on the tooth pain description.

Tooth pain rule of thumb 

The causes of a toothache vary widely from case to case, but some tooth pain requires immediate treatment. There are a few rules that are critical to remember when it comes to tooth pain, however. 

Get immediate treatment If the pain:

If you’re experiencing any or all of these symptoms, your tooth pain is cause for concern.

Tooth pain treatment

Treatment depends on the cause of your tooth pain. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all blanket procedure to relieve distress, and identifying the tooth pain culprit is one job that’s best left to the professionals. 

If you have to ask yourself whether you should be concerned about tooth pain, that’s an excellent indication that you should book an appointment to see us as soon as you can.

Dr. Baek also sees patients requiring emergency dental treatment, so you don’t have to deal with the pain yourself. Call Healthy Smile Dental today at 630-296-5396 or use our convenient online scheduling tool.

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