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Throbbing tooth pain

Updated on October 15, 2013

People who do not follow proper dental hygiene practices are most likely to suffer from toothaches and throbbing tooth pain. Individuals from all age groups can get affected by varied types of tooth pain. The severity of tooth pain can range from mild to severe and can be sporadic or constant. There are several kinds of dental issues that can result in throbbing tooth pain. It is important to diagnose the underlying causes so as to relieve the pain and other related symptoms.

Symptoms accompanying throbbing tooth pain

Tooth pain can be throbbing, sharp, or continuous. Some patients may experience the pain only after application of pressure on the affected tooth. A few common symptoms that may accompany throbbing tooth pain are listed below:

  • Fever

  • Swelling of the area around the tooth

  • Headache

  • Foul-tasting and smelly discharge from the infected tooth

It is essential to consult a dentist if throbbing tooth pain lasts for more than one or two days; if it is accompanied by an earache, fever, or elevated pain when the mouth is opened wide; and in case of severe toothache.

It is also important to note that correct diagnosis and effective treatment is essential so as to avoid the spread of dental infections to other sections of the face, the skull, or the bloodstream.


Throbbing pain in and around a tooth can be caused due to many reasons as mentioned below:

  • Tooth abscess

  • Decay of tooth

  • A filling that is damaged

  • Tooth fracture

  • Infection of the gums

  • Repetitive motions like teeth grinding or chewing gum

Some of the common causes of throbbing tooth pain are discussed below:

  • One of the most common causes of tooth pain in adults and children is dental caries or tooth decay. When an infection of the tooth leads to formation of dental abscess, then it can cause agonizing pain. A dental abscess refers to accumulation of pus in the infected tooth.

  • The loss of dentin and tooth enamel can result in elevated sensitivity of the tooth. The enamel is the hard outer cover that encloses the crown, while the dentin is the tissue present beneath the enamel.

  • Another dental disorder that causes throbbing tooth pain is pulpitis. It is identified by an inflamed dental pulp which is situated within the pulp cavity occurring in the mid-section of the tooth. The soft connective tissue which comprises of blood vessels and nerves is referred to as the pulp. When a tooth decay migrates to the nerves, then the patient will usually elicit a sharp, throbbing pain.

  • Other factors and conditions that can lead to tooth pain include cracked tooth syndrome, bruxism, periodontal disease, development of wisdom teeth, and temporomandibular disease.


A visit to the dentist will involve varied diagnostic tests to find out the causes of throbbing tooth pain.

  • The dentist will perform a physical test and peruse through your dental and medical records. The physical test will include examination of the oral cavity, the gums, teeth, tongue, jaws, sinuses, throat, nose, ears, and neck.

  • The dentist will ask specific questions about the pain, such as the exact location of the pain, what aggravates it, and what diminishes it.

  • If the doctor suspects some other underlying abnormality to be the cause of throbbing tooth pain, then he/she will suggest x-rays as well as other tests so as to get additional information.

Treatment of throbbing tooth pain

Throbbing tooth pain is treated as per the underlying cause.

  • If the toothache is caused due to a cavity, then the dentist may fill it up. If necessary, he/she may also extract the affected tooth.

  • Phototherapy using a cold laser may be carried out to alleviate the accompanying inflammation and pain.

  • If a nerve of the affected tooth has become infected, then the dentist may opt for a root canal. Such infections are typically caused by bacteria that have reached into the inner sections of the tooth.

  • The dentist may also suggest antibiotics to eliminate any cases of jaw swelling or fever.

  • Mild tooth pain can be alleviated with over the counter pain killers, as well as home remedies that include the use of garlic and onion paste, clove oil, vanilla extract, asafetida and lemon juice paste, wheatgrass mouthwash, herbal tea, or warm or cold compresses.


As a majority of throbbing tooth pain instances are caused due to tooth decay, it is possible to prevent such toothache by following a good oral hygiene regimen.

In order to avoid tooth decay, you need to brush at least twice a day using a toothpaste that has fluoride; floss at least once on a daily basis; and engage in professional cleaning two times in a year.

Additionally, individuals can prevent tooth decay by consuming foods that have low sugar. You may also consult with the dentist about the applications of fluoride and sealants.


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