Tooth Pain Guide
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 bristle toothbrush; brushing sideways wears away exposed root surfaces. If this is unsuccessful or if the sensitivity is coming from a decay, you should see your specialist.
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 specialist.
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 after eating hot or cold foods.
Possible problem: This probably means the pulp has been 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 gingival tissue and bone.
What to do: See your endodontist for evaluation and treatment to relieve the pain and save the tooth.
Symptom: Dull ache and pressure in upper teeth and jaw.
Possible problem: 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.
What to do: For sinus headache, see your physician. For bruxism, consult your dentist. If pain is severe and chronic, see your endodontist for evaluation.
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