Dentist Questions Toothaches

Do toothaches always mean an infection?

My back molar has been hurting, but the pain come and goes. I don't think it's an infection or a cavity but I'm not really sure. I already made an appointment with my dentist to check it out, but do all toothaches usually mean that I have an infection?

13 Answers

No, not always. Glad you're going to get it checked out.
Not always, may be a root canal, just go see your dentist.
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Yes, they usually are related with infection.
Toothaches occur in response to a stimulus, it can be for several reasons but infections are more common. You can have pain (sensitivity) to cold or hot foods which might be due to inflamed gums or exposed root surfaces of the tooth. You can also have something stuck within or around the tooth causing irritation to the area. Many times tooth pain surfaces not due to tooth infection but injury or infection of the surrounding areas such as soft tissues or the periodontium. On certain occasions, the individual can have fractures occurring within the teeth which can also result in pain. Nonetheless, your dentist should hopefully be able to resolve the issue.
No, not all toothaches mean infection. Often, it is bite-related; if your bite/occlusion is high or an excursive (side to side) interference is present. A toothache could be the result of a small crack in the tooth. First, is it sensitive to cold, hot, and biting? Second, does the tooth ache without any food or liquid present? Or only while eating or drinking? Third, how long does it ache? Fourth, has a filling come out or chipped? These are key questions to lead to a proper diagnosis as well as taking a radiograph.
Toothaches can be caused by a variety of things including an infection but not limited to an infection. Trauma can cause toothaches and so can many other factors. The things to be aware of with a toothache is the duration, intensity, and type of ache/pain you are experiencing. When in doubt though, it is always prudent to seek professional care.
No, teeth may be sore from sensitivity issues, worn or defective restorations or excessive biting forces.
A toothache never means anything good, but does not always mean an infection. You definitely want to see your dentist to determine exactly what the problem may be. I have no idea of your age or dental condition, but the first thing that I would do was to look into your mouth to see if you have all of your teeth, including wisdom teeth. Sometimes when wisdom teeth are erupting, it causes pain much like teething, but can cause the tissue over or behind the wisdom tooth to get infected. Treatment would be antibiotics, then remove the wisdom teeth. The next thing I would look at, assuming that you have all of your teeth, would be to look for obvious decay and or gum inflammation. If you are not a daily flosser, your gums could be the issue. If you have not had routine X-rays, you will need to have X-rays taken to see if you have decay between your teeth or other more serious problems. The biggest problem with your question is that we have no idea what the condition your teeth are in or how you have been dealing with routine maintenance.

Dr. Lieblong
Simple answer? No. There are many causes for toothaches and sometimes infections do not cause a toothache. The key is proper diagnosis, which usually means necessary and appropriate X-rays, a detailed history of the problem, a review of your medical history, your past dental history, prior X-rays, and then usually some clinical tests and examination. There is no substitute for diagnosis and it takes time, experience, information gathering, and testing.

Not really. Sometimes when dentin is exposed, then there can be sensitivity and also with gingival recession there can be sensitivity and these can present as pain. I would recommend to have an exam with the dentist.
Dear patient,

Based on your symptoms, it looks like you have pulpitis, which means inflammation of the nerve, not necessarily an infection.
No. You may have a deep cavity that is close to the pulp (nerve) of the tooth.
Not all toothaches mean an infection. Infection are diagnosed based on the signs, symptoms and an X-ray. If there is pain with hot, pressure and it keeps you up at night... these are the usual telltale symptoms of an infection. Pain can occur due to cavity, recession, grinding or clenching just to name a few .