Common Dental Pain Problems

These suggestions are provided as general guidelines. For specific information you should consult your general dentist or endodontist.


Possible Problem:

What To Do:

Momentary sensitivity to hot or cold foods or beverages. If the discomfort lasts only moments, sensitivity to hot and cold foods generally does not signal a problem. The sensitivity may be caused by a loose filling or by minimal gum recession which exposes small areas of the root surface. Try using toothpastes made for sensitive teeth. You can usually find this toothpaste at your local drug store, or ask your dentist.*See your dentist to check your fillings.
Sensitivity to hot or cold foods after dental treatment. Dental work may inflame the pulp, inside the tooth, causing temporary sensitivity. Wait four to six weeks to see if it gets better on its own. If the pain persists or worsens, see your dentist.
Sharp pain when biting down on food. 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. See a dentist for an 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.
Lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods. This probably means the pulp has been damaged by deep decay or physical trauma. See your endodontist to save the tooth with root canal treatment.
Constant and severe pain and pressure, swelling of gum, and sensitivity to touch. A tooth may have become abscessed, causing the surrounding bone to become infected. See an endodontist for an evaluation and treatment to relieve the pain and save the tooth. Take over-the-counter analgesics until you see the endodontist.
Dull ache and pressure in upper teeth and jaw. The pain of a sinus headache is often felt in the face and teeth. Grinding of teeth, a condition known as bruxism, can also cause this type of ache. For sinus headache, try over-the-counter analgesics or sinus medicine. For bruxism, consult your dentist. If pain is severe and chronic, see your physician or endodontist for evaluation.
Chronic pain in head, neck, or ear. Sometimes pulp-damaged teeth cause pain in other parts of the head and neck, but other dental or medical problems may be responsible. See your endodontist for an evaluation. If the problem is not related to the tooth, your endodontist will refer you to an appropriate dental specialist or a physician.