An aching tooth you get from a cavity is no fun, but it's something that can be easily seen and quickly solved. Unfortunately, toothaches also stem from problems that aren't so easily recognized.
Tooth pain can be a little like that weird noise your car engine makes but always disappears the moment you drive it into the repair shop.
A tooth that aches only in the morning may be the result of overnight tooth grinding (bruxism). Bruxism is quite common, and has the potential of deteriorating tooth enamel. But it's also treatable. Occasionally a patient will experience some hot/cold sensitivity after a new filling or crown. That's normal, and should go away after a few days. If it doesn't, the problem may lie elsewhere. And we want to know about it.
There's also pain from "root surface sensitivity." This can result from years of brushing teeth too hard, "heartburn acid" which enters the mouth overnight and attacks the enamel of your teeth, receding gums, or periodontal pockets of infection. A toothache may even be the result of a microscopic crack in a molar. These pains are not easy to pinpoint, and often require that you and I work together to help determine the actual cause.
And, yes, toothaches come from decay. But whatever the reason, if you're experiencing tooth discomfort, call the dentist so we can help you solve the mystery of an achy tooth. With all the resources at our disposal, an aching tooth is something no one should have to live with.