Self-Diagnosis of Dental Pain
Do You Experience any of the Following?

A Brief Sensitivity to Hot or Cold Foods

Often you will find that a brief “twinge” of sensitivity is related more to root surface than to infection. Recession is when the gums move down the tooth, exposing the root of the tooth. Although it looks like the rest of the tooth, the root has no enamel, therefore no insulation. Changes in temperature (hot food to cold drink) will result in a sensitivity that is usually brief.

What to Do

Using toothpastes made for sensitive teeth is typically the only treatment needed. For these types of toothpastes to be effective, they must be used correctly. This means consistent daily brushing with the paste for a minimum of 2 weeks, in order for the results to be noticed. If, however the problem persists, contact your dentist for an evaluation.

Discomfort after Dental Treatment when Eating or Drinking

Dental work can be traumatizing to the teeth and surrounding tissue. The heat, water and vibrations that are all necessary to restore a tooth can result in minor inflammation. If the discomfort is noticed during chewing, then the filling may need adjustment. While your mouth is frozen, it is difficult to bite in a natural way, therefore making it sometimes impossible to match your bite until after the freezing has gone.

What to Do

Try to determine what you are doing when the sensitivity is noticed. If it occurs when chewing, return to your dentist as soon as you are able to. If a filling is “high”, the extra biting force could result in trauma to the nerve. If the sensitivity is random in nature, wait a couple of weeks, as time to settle is the treatment recommended. If the pain persists or worsens, see your dentist.

Sharp Pain When Chewing

There are several possible causes of this type of pain: decay, a loose filling, or a crack in the tooth. There may be damage to the pulp tissue inside the tooth. Your body is trying to tell you something, listen to it.

What to Do

See your dentist for evaluation. If the problem is a cracked tooth, your dentist may send you to an endodontist. Cracked tooth pain comes from damage to the inner soft tissue of the tooth—the pulp. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in pulp-related procedures. Endodontic treatment, also known as root canal treatment, can relieve that pain and prevent further irreparable damage.

Lingering Pain that Seems to Radiate

This probably means the pulp has been damaged by deep decay or physical trauma.

What to Do

Contact Dr. Wolfson to save the tooth with root canal treatment.

Severe Pain and Pressure and Possible Swelling

A tooth, or gum tissue, may have become very badly infected, causing the surrounding tissues to become sensitive to any pressure. This can happen gradually or quite quickly, however in either case the problem will not rectify without proper professional care.

What to Do

See you endodontist for evaluation and treatment to relieve the pain and save the tooth. Take over-the-counter analgesics until you see the endodontist.

Facial Pain or Pressure across the Upper Jaw

The pain of a sinus headache is often felt in the face and teeth, even misinterpreted as a toothache at times. Habits such as grinding or clenching of the teeth can go unrecognized as it is a subconscious action. This too, can result in a dull jaw or facial ache.

What to Do

Over-the-counter analgesics or sinus medicine will often provide relief fairly quickly when the cause is a sinus issue. If you feel you may be grinding your teeth, consult your dentist. If pain is severe and chronic, see your physician or endodontist for evaluation.

Ongoing Pain in Head, Neck or Ear

Determining the source of the pain may be difficult; however we shouldn’t discount the possibility that a tooth is the source. Sometimes pulp-damaged teeth cause pain in other parts of the head and neck, but other dental or medical problems may be responsible.

What to Do

See Dr. Wolfson for an evaluation. If the problem is not related to the tooth, yDr. Wolfson will refer you to an appropriate dental specialist or a physician.

Things to Consider When You Have Dental Pain...