Sometimes, A Toothache is Not a Toothache

Most of us have had a toothache at some point. At their worst, toothaches can be so painful that they keep you from doing anything. At their worst, they can be so painful that you can’t even move. Because the pain feels like it’s coming from your tooth, it’s normal to think that all toothaches are caused by cavities, gum disease, or some other problem with your tooth. Dr. Motiwala wants you to know, though, that not all toothaches have to do with your teeth.

Oh, really? Toothaches that don’t come from your teeth? Yes, it can happen, and it does. Still, most toothaches are caused by the teeth.

How Can a Toothache Not Come From Your Tooth?

Your mouth is a complicated organ with many kinds of tissue, nerves, and bacteria. Most toothaches are caused by common dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease, but there are many other conditions that can cause pain in one or more teeth. Some of these conditions have nothing to do with your teeth. Here are just a few:

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ or TMD)

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, or TMD, is a disease that causes pain and discomfort in the jaw joint and the muscles that move the jaw. It can be caused by things like misalignment, teeth grinding, stress, or an accident. There may be pain in the jaw, clicking sounds, limited jaw movement, and headaches. To get relief, you may need to see a dentist or a doctor.

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a long-term problem of the nerves that causes sudden, severe pain in the face. The pain is often described as stabs or electric shocks. It is caused by irritation of the trigeminal nerve, which can be set off by simple things like breathing, speaking, or even a light touch on the face. The pain is intense and short-lived.

Maxillary Sinusitis

Maxillary sinusitis is an illness or inflammation of the maxillary sinuses, which are on either side of the nose, above the upper teeth. It is usually caused by a viral or bacterial illness, an allergy, or a problem with the way the body is built. Some of the symptoms are facial pain, pressure, stuffy nose, and headache. To feel better, you may need medical care or home remedies.


Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is an illness caused by a virus. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which is the same virus that causes chickenpox, becoming active again. It looks like a painful rash with blisters that tends to show up on one side of the body. Postherpetic neuralgia may come after, causing nerve pain in the area where the shingles were. Shingles can be prevented by getting a shot.

Oral Herpes

Oral herpes is a contagious condition caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). It looks like cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth. It spreads through direct touch and stays in nerve cells, causing outbreaks to happen over and over again. Antiviral drugs can help treat symptoms and lower the risk of spreading the virus.


What should you remember above all else? If you have moderate to serious pain in your mouth, you should make an appointment with Dr. Motiwala. Even though a lot of pain doesn’t always mean you need emergency dental care, you shouldn’t take the chance. We have seen it all at Dr. Motiwala Dental Clinic & Implant Centre, so we know how to take care of your smile. Our staff can look in your mouth and help figure out if the trouble is coming from your teeth or not.

Don’t be afraid to give us a call if you have a toothache and have questions or would like to make an appointment.

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