Many things can cause pain for your teeth. These can range from mild, such as sensitivity to cold food and drink, to severe, such as tooth or gum infections.

Dental infections can potentially become life-threatening. If you have any toothache, please consult your dentist soon as early treatment tends to be more effective.

It is important to have regular check ups as most dental decay do not cause pain until they are very severe.


Gum disease, which is a chronic infection, is closely linked to diabetes and heart disease, due to chronic inflammatory processes. Poorly controlled diabetes is often found with poorly controlled periodontal(gum) disease, and vice versa. Severe periodontal disease is linked to worse diabetes. Other conditions linked with gum disease include osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and cancer. Treatment of dental conditions have been associated with improvements in general health and quality of life. Source: American Association of Periodontology 
Please note that this page is a brief summary for informational purposes only and not meant to be used as a diagnosis. Tooth pain may also be caused by other factors that are not covered in this page.

Please visit your dentist if you have any symptoms, pain or issues as this may not apply to you.


Symptoms: Short (less than few seconds) and sharp pain on cold food/drinks. Can also present as tooth sensitivity.


Bacteria present on our teeth feed on sugar and produce acids that attack our teeth, causing breakdown of the tooth surface and resulting in a hole. With a high sugar intake in our diet, the bacteria produce more acids and tooth starts to decay.

Improper brushing or flossing habits will result in accumulation of more bacteria and more rapid decay process.

Often, tooth decay occurs in between two teeth. It may not visible to our eyes, hence we use x-rays to make sure we detect dental decay. At Dental Designs, we use digital x-rays for the lowest radiation exposure to you. Read more here.

Treatment: When cavities are present, it represents a bacteria invasion that has penetrated into the tooth causing a hole or cavity. The tooth is unable to heal from a cavity, and thus the bacteria will need to be removed and the tooth surface sealed up to prevent the cavity from getting bigger.

We practice metal free dentistry and use only tooth coloured fillings where we remove the infected area and place a tooth coloured filling over it. Fillings can stain over time and need to be replaced due to wear. For a longer lasting solution, you can choose to do ceramic fillings such as inlays or onlays.

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Symptoms: Short (less than few seconds) and sharp pain on cold food/drinks. In some cases, you may experience sharp pain when brushing teeth, or when cold air touches the teeth.

Causes: Acidic exposure due to frequent consumption of acidic(sour) food and drinks, or from gastric reflux, vomitting.

Brushing too hard can cause receeding gums and exposure of the sensitive areas of the tooth roots.

Improper use of home whitening products may result in severe sensitivity and pain. It is safer and usually more effective to do whitening under the supervision of your dentist. Find out more about our whitening services.

Treatment: Desensitising gels such as fluoride and tooth mousse can be applied to protect the tooth. Do gentle brushing without excessive pushing on the teeth. Avoid brushing for at least 30 minutes after acid exposure (through sour food/drink or after vomitting/acid reflux.)

In more severe cases, fillings may be done to cover the sensitive areas and to protect the tooth against further abrasion and wear.


Symptoms: Dull ache/severe pain/pain when eating. The pain may recover spontaneously, and recur again and again.

Possible Causes: Wisdom teeth, or third molar teeth, are commonly impacted which means they did not erupt into the mouth completely. They are prone to trapping food and bacteria, which causes infection and pain.

Treatment: An x-ray is usually required to check the position and severity of impaction of your wisdom tooth. The dentist will then recommend options for extraction of the wisdom tooth. Surgical extractions are fully covered under medisave at our clinic.

If left untreated, the neighbouring tooth may become affected by tooth decay and gum infection and may, in severe cases, become badly infected.

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Symptoms: Constant dull ache, pain on cold or hot that lasts longer than a few seconds that does not go away.

You may notice a small pimple/boil on the gum near the tooth that is hurting.

Possible Causes: Decay or trauma that has injured the tooth and caused inflammation in the tooth pulp

Treatment: Depending on the severity, treatment options may include:

You may have an infected tooth with or without abscess. Please see your dentist immediately as these infections can spread and are potentially life threatening.


Symptoms: Bleeding gums especially when brushing or flossing, bad breath, may have dull ache around an area

Possible Causes: Bacteria buildup on the teeth and gums causes swollen gums that can bleed easily. Gum disease or periodontal disease that can be localised or generalised.

Treatment: A through removal of all the buildup of soft and hard bacteria (also known as calculus or tartar) needs to be done with deep dental scaling and cleaning. Dental rinses to reduce bacteria such as chlorhexidine mouth rinse or additional cleaning tools such as interdental toothbrushes may also be prescribed. To prevent recurrence, oral hygiene must be maintained with regular brushing and flossing.

As periodontal disease is a chronic condition that can cause loss of the gums and bone which support the teeth, it is important that it is kept under control with regular professional dental cleaning.

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Symptoms: Dull ache or pain in the jaw, either side or both sides, that can spread from the temple to the lower jaw. May be present throughout the day or worse at certain times.

Possible Causes: Grinding or Bruxism often occurs at night during sleep, while clenching often happens subconsciously in the daytime. It may be caused by stress, jaw position, teeth malocclusion

Treatment: If the teeth grinding is in the day time as a habit, the first thing is to consciously try to stop yourself from grinding or clenching your teeth. If it is happening during sleep, it is not possible to control. You may need a splint or nightguard that is custom made for you to protect your jaw and teeth from further damage.

If left untreated, the teeth tend to have more wear and are more prone to cracking, which can lead to severe consequences as explained above. As the teeth wear down, you may observe a facial change whereby the face appears rounder/squarer due to a loss in height of the lower face. You may also experience worsening pain the the jaw and surrounding face muscles.

Sometimes, grinding habits can be due to teeth being crowded or the jaw position, such as deep bite. We can take a jaw x-ray to confirm, and braces may help to treat this.

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Symptoms: Pain when you eat, can be sharp pain or dull ache. You may notice it occuring only sometimes in the early stages, once the crack progresses the frequency of the pain will increase to almost every time when you bite.

Sometimes, if a piece of the tooth has dislodged, it is called a tooth fracture. It usually becomes much more painful.

Possible Causes: Decay or trauma that has caused the tooth to crack. Hairline cracks are impossible to detect with the naked eye and yet can still cause pain. Over time, the cracks enlarge and a part of the tooth can fracture off.

Treatment: Cracked teeth in the early stages can be saved by reinforcing the tooth with a full coverage dental crown. The crown encircles the whole tooth, bracing it against biting forces.

If not treated early, small cracks will eventually become larger and may cause infection and pain. Large cracks can cause complete fracture of the tooth whereby the tooth splits into half. Treatment will be more complex, such as:

  • Root canal treatment to save the tooth, which is usually followed by repairing the tooth
  • Tooth extraction with/without replacement options such as dental implants OR bridges OR dentures.

Therefore, if you feel any pain or suspect a crack, it is best to come in for a check up with our dentist so that we can catch the problem in the early stages.


No more unpleasant messy dental impressions needed. We use a 3D scanner to create a digital model of your teeth, design and precision mill your high quality customised crown, so it fits your tooth perfectly. Convenient, fast, long lasting ceramic crowns.
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