There can be many causes for tooth pain, including dental decay, an injury or infection. If you have tooth pain, read on to find your symptoms, possible causes and treatment options. If you have on-going pain or discomfort, contact your dentist or endodontist.
Symptom: Momentary sensitivity to hot or cold foods.
Possible problem: If this discomfort lasts only moments, sensitivity to hot and cold foods generally does not signal a serious problem. The sensitivity may be caused by a small decay, a loose filling or by minimal gum recession that exposes small areas of the root surface.
What to do: Try using toothpastes made for sensitive teeth. Brush up and down with a soft brush; brushing sideways wears away exposed root surfaces. If this is unsuccessful after several days, see your general dentist.
Symptom: Sensitivity to hot or cold foods after dental treatment.
Possible problem: Dental work may inflame the pulp inside the tooth causing temporary sensitivity.
What to do: Wait two to four weeks. If the pain persists or worsens, see your general dentist.
Symptom: Sharp pain when biting down on food.
Possible problem: There are several possible causes of this type of pain: decay, a loose filling or crack in the tooth. There may also be damage to the pulp tissue inside the tooth.
What to do: See a dentist for evaluation. If the problem is pulp tissue damage, your dentist may send you to an endodontist. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in pulp-related procedures. Your endodontist will perform a procedure that cleans out the damaged pulp and fills and seals the remaining space. This procedure is commonly called a root canal.
Symptom: Lingering pain, typically lasting more than 30 seconds, after eating hot or cold foods.
Possible problem: This probably means the pulp has been irreversibly damaged by deep decay or physical trauma.
What to do: See your dentist or endodontist to save the tooth with root canal treatment.
Symptom: Constant and severe pain and pressure, swelling of gum and sensitivity to touch.
Possible problem: A tooth may have become abscessed, causing an infection in the surrounding tissue and bone.
What to do: See your endodontist for evaluation and treatment to relieve the pain and save the tooth. Take over-the-counter medications until you see the endodontist.
Symptom: Dull ache and pressure in upper teeth and jaw.
Possible problem: Grinding of teeth, a condition known as bruxism, can cause this type of ache. The pain of a sinus headache may also be felt in the face and teeth.
What to do: For bruxism, consult your dentist. For sinus headache, try over-the-counter medication. If pain is severe and chronic, see your endodontist or physician for evaluation.
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The American Association of Endodontists is dedicated to excellence in the art and science of endodontics and to the highest standard of patient care. The Association inspires its members to pursue professional advancement and personal fulfillment through education, research, advocacy, leadership, communication and service.