THERE ARE MANY types of tooth pain depending on what’s causing the problem. The dentist will be able to identify the cause, but you can help if you are able to describe your discomfort in specific terms. Let’s look at a few of the main types of tooth pain.
Short-Term Temperature Change Sensitivity
If you feel a brief flare of discomfort in your teeth when eating cold or hot foods, the underlying cause usually isn’t too serious. If it’s happening to a single tooth, it could be a loose filling or slight gum recession exposing a small amount of root surface. Try using tooth sensitivity toothpaste and brushing up and down rather than sideways, which wears away at exposed root surfaces.
Post-Treatment Temperature Sensitivity
Dental work sometimes inflames the pulp inside the tooth, making it more sensitive during the healing process. After a few weeks, if the pain hasn’t gone away on its own (and particularly if it’s getting worse), go back to the dentist because it could mean there’s a problem with the dental work.
Lingering Pain from Temperature Changes
Temporary temperature sensitivity might not indicate a serious problem, but if a tooth keeps hurting for a while after consuming something hot or cold, it could mean that the pulp has been damaged by trauma or decay. This is the kind of toothache that requires the expertise of an endodontist to save the tooth.
Dull, Aching Pressure in the Jaw and Upper Teeth
When the pain is spread across most or all of the teeth like this, it could be a sinus headache or leftover soreness from bruxism (chronic teeth grinding). If it’s a headache, pain or sinus medication could help. If you have a grinding problem, talk to your dentist. If the pain is chronic and severe, you may need to talk to your doctor or the endodontist.
Sharp Pain When Chewing
If it hurts to bite down with a tooth, that could be due to a loose filling, tooth decay, or a crack in the tooth — all to the extent of damage to the pulp. This kind of tooth pain definitely merits a trip to the general dentist for an evaluation. They might then refer you to our endodontic office if the problem is a cracked tooth.
Sensitivity to Touch, Severe Pain and Pressure, and Swollen Gums
This kind of pain likely indicates a dental abscess, where the infection in the tooth has spread out of the root into the surrounding bone and gum tissue. Aside from being very painful, this can be a life-threatening problem, so get to the endodontist as soon as possible for an evaluation and treatment. Treatment will relieve the pain and save the tooth. In the meantime, manage the symptoms with over-the-counter pain medication.
Chronic Neck, Ear, or Head Pain
Damage to dental pulp sometimes causes pain a little farther out, but it could also be due to a different dental or medical problem. It’s a good idea to get an evaluation from an endodontist, though you may be referred to another specialist or physician if the problem isn’t related to a tooth.
Your Dental Pain Deserves the Right Help!
Don’t suffer dental pain in silence. Dental problems rarely recover without help from a dental professional. They are much more likely to get worse and, consequently, more expensive and difficult to fix. See us or your general dentist so we can begin to solve the mystery of what’s causing the pain and then make a plan to fix the problem.