Diagnosing Tooth Pain

“Ouch–my tooth hurts!

Tooth pain is not fun. And sometimes it means that you need to see your dentist. However, some tooth pain can be handled by knowing what to do. Here we share some tooth problems and symptoms and what the most likely cause is.

Do you have pain when you bite down on something?

This could be due to several reasons: you could have a loose filling, or your tooth might be cracked. If there is a crack or even if there is not, there could be decay. You’ll need to visit your dentist to find out what is wrong with that tooth, but you can examine it closely yourself. Make sure you do not have any food particles wedged into it.

When you have something hot or cold in your mouth, do you get a twinge of pain in a tooth?

Having sensitivity to cold or hot foods usually does not mean you have a problem. Especially if the discomfort lasts just a few seconds. You could have a slightly loose filling or a small area exposed that is sensitive that is near the tooth root, maybe in a tooth that you’ve had worked on. Another cause is mild gum recession. You can try switching to a toothpaste made just for sensitive teeth. Brush your teeth several times a day with it, or you can apply the toothpaste to the sensitive area two or three times a day just using your finger. If it doesn’t help you, make an appointment with your dentist.

Having sensitivity to hot or cold foods after a dental treatment is normal, due to there being a bit of inflammation from the dental work. If you still have discomfort after several weeks, you should return to the dentist.

Any time that you have pain or discomfort for a minute or more after eating something hot or cold, you have pulp damage…decay that needs to be taken care of. If decay is extensive, often a root canal is done to save the tooth.

Do you have pretty serious pain, possibly combined with pressure and some swelling?

This means you have a cavity and possibly even an abscessed tooth. When you have pressure and swelling of your gums around the tooth and it hurts when you touch it, this is likely to be an abscess, which makes the bone around the tooth infected and sore. You can use an analgesic from the drugstore until you can get to the dentist. Endodontists specialize in working on this type of tooth problem so your dentist may recommend an endodontist or you could make an appointment with one directly.

Do you have pain in your ear, your face, your neck or maybe a spot on your head?

If no other answer seems obvious, do not rule out a tooth problem. A decayed tooth can cause pain in various places. But of course, there could be more going on. You should see an endodontist to fully examine your teeth and find the “root” (smile) of the problem.

Do you have an ache or pressure around your teeth and your jaws?

Sometimes a sinus condition can cause aching in the teeth and jaws so you can try sinus medicine to see if it alleviates the problem. It is also possible that you are a teeth grinder. Clenching or grinding your teeth at night while you sleep can cause aches and pains in your mouth area the next day. You can try wearing a guard over your teeth at night and see if this alleviates the problem.

In general, if you have tooth pain that persists, don’t ignore it…because if there is decay or gum disease, it will only get worse. The sooner you see your dentist, the better. Pain relief products should only be a temporary solution until your dental office visit.