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Dental pain
ICD-10 K088
ICD-9 525.9
OMIM [1]
DiseasesDB 27698
MedlinePlus [2]
eMedicine /
MeSH {{{MeshNumber}}}

A toothache, also known as odontalgia or, less frequently, as odontalgy, is an aching pain in or around a tooth. In most cases toothaches are caused by problems in the tooth or jaw, such as cavities, gum disease, the emergence of wisdom teeth, a cracked tooth, infected dental pulp (necessitating root canal treatment or extraction of the tooth), jaw disease, or exposed tooth root. Causes of a toothache may also be a symptom of diseases of the heart, such as angina or a myocardial infarction, due to referred pain. After having one or more teeth extracted a condition known as dry socket can develop, leading to extreme pain. The severity of a toothache can range from a mild discomfort to excruciating pain, which can be experienced either chronically or sporadically. This pain can often be aggravated somewhat by chewing or by hot or cold temperatures. An oral examination complete with X-rays can help discover the cause. Severe pain may be considered a dental emergency. A special condition is barodontalgia, a dental pain evoked upon changes in barometric pressure, in otherwise asymptomatic but diseased teeth.[1][2] Atypical odontalgia is a form of toothache present in apparently normal teeth. The pain, generally dull, often moves from one tooth to another for a period of 4 months to several years. This is most commonly reported by middle-aged women. The cause of atypical odontalgia is not yet clear.

Toothaches are sometimes caused by an irritation of the pulp, known as pulpitis. This can be either reversible or irreversible. Irreversible pulpitis can be identified by sensitivity and pain lasting longer than fifteen seconds, although an exception to this may exist if the tooth has been recently operated on. Teeth affected by irreversible pulpitis will need either a root canal or an extraction.[3]



Dental hypnosis

See also

  • Barodontalgia
  • Dental caries
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth abscess
  • Temporomandibular disease
  • Wisdom teeth
  • Endodontic therapy
  • Tooth extraction


  1. Zadik Y, Chapnik L, Goldstein L (June 2007). In-flight barodontalgia: analysis of 29 cases in military aircrew. Aviat Space Environ Med 78 (6): 593–6.
  2. Zadik Y (August 2006). Barodontalgia due to odontogenic inflammation in the jawbone. Aviat Space Environ Med 77 (8): 864–6.
  3. Merck. Toothache and Infection. The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library.

Further reading


  • Dionne, R. A. (2001). Management of inflammatory pain. Carol Stream, IL: Quintessence Publishing Co.
  • Dworkin, S. F., & Sherman, J. (2006). Chronic Orofacial Pain: Biobehavioral Perspectives. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Greene, C. S. (2001). Science transfer in orofacial pain. Carol Stream, IL: Quintessence Publishing Co.
  • Lynn, S. J., Kirsch, I., & Koby, D. G. (2006). Pain Management, Behavioral Medicine, and Dentistry with Danielle G. Koby. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  • McNeil, D. W., Sorrell, J. T., & Vowles, K. E. (2006). Emotional and Environmental Determinants of Dental Pain. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.


  • Andersson, S. A., & Holmgren, E. (1978). Analgesic effects of peripheral conditioning stimulation: III. Effect of high frequency stimulation; segmental mechanisms interacting with pain: Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research Vol 3(1-2) 1978, 23-36.
  • Antczak-Bouckoms, A., & Bouckoms, A. J. (1985). Affective disturbance and denial of problems in dental patients with pain: International Journal of Psychosomatics Vol 32(3) 1985, 9-11.
  • Carlson, C. R. (2002). A Pain Primer for the Practitioner Interested in Behavioral Dentistry: PsycCRITIQUES Vol 47 (5), Oct, 2002.
  • Evcil, M. S., Keles, A., & Uzun, I. (2006). Evaluation of the combination of amoxicillin trihydrate, diclofenac potassium and ornidazol for the management of endodontic pain: The Pain Clinic Vol 18(2) 2006, 181-185.
  • Grushka, M., & Sessle, B. J. (1984). Applicability of the McGill Pain Questionnaire to the differentiation of "toothache" pain: Pain Vol 19(1) May 1984, 49-57.
  • Sharav, Y., Leviner, E., Tzukert, A., & McGrath, P. A. (1984). The spatial distribution, intensity and unpleasantness of acute dental pain: Pain Vol 20(4) Dec 1984, 363-370.
  • van Wijk, A. J., & Hoogstraten, J. (2002). The McGill Pain Questionnaire in dentistry: Dental pain described in numbers: Pain Reviews Vol 9(2) Jul 2002, 87-97.

External links