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Diagnosing Dental Pain: What to Expect

February 10, 2021
a woman holds the side of her mouth in pain

Endodontists specialize in the diagnosis of dental pain. Severe dental pain can disrupt patients’ lives, making it difficult to eat, sleep, speak, and go about their normal activities. With care from a skilled endodontist, you will be able to get back to your routine quickly.

Dental Pain Symptoms

Dental pain often develops suddenly, with symptoms varying from mild to severe. At times, the pain may even be debilitating. Some of the most common symptoms of dental pain include:

  • Dull, achy pain
  • Sharp, jabbing pain
  • Pain when biting
  • Pain with hot or cold stimulus
  • Throbbing pain
  • Jaw pain

Symptoms can be intermittent or constant; some patients only experience pain when eating, while for others, the pain is lingering. You may experience some level of relief with over-the-counter pain relievers, but once they wear off, the pain returns.

How Endodontists Diagnose Dental Pain

While a general or family dentist may be able to diagnose dental pain as well, only endodontists have advanced dental technology that helps them quickly identify the cause of your discomfort and recommend a treatment to alleviate your pain and save your natural tooth.

During your appointment, one of our endodontists will go over your risk factors and examine your teeth. If needed, we use clinical microscopic examination, 3D imaging, and CBCT scans to determine the origin of your pain. In most cases, teeth can be saved with endodontic therapy. We will collaborate with your dentist to recommend the best course of treatment.

Causes of Dental Pain

Some of the most common causes of dental pain include:

Tooth Decay

When tooth decay spreads inward from the enamel and reaches the pulp of a tooth, it can cause severe pain, sensitivity, and necrosis of the nerve if left untreated.

Inflammation of the Pulp

Also known as pulpitis, inflammation of the pulp can cause sensitivity to temperature, pain when biting, a dull ache in the jaw, and referred pain in the ear, head, or temple. Root canal treatment will alleviate this pain.

Cracks and Fractures

Cracks and fractures can occur as a result of wear and tear, dental trauma, or biting down on a hard object. Sometimes this type of dental injury is immediately identifiable, as it can be seen or felt, but other times, a hairline crack is only visible upon microscopic examination. Cracks and fractures can cause dull pain, sensitivity, or sharp pain when biting in a certain way. 

Dental Abscess

When bacteria builds up inside the pulp area of the tooth, it can cause a dental abscess. Signs of an abscess include pain when biting, swelling, persistent bad breath, extreme sensitivity to temperature, and a small bump on the gums near the tooth. Dental abscesses require urgent attention.

Schedule an Appointment for Dental Pain

If you’re experiencing dental pain, it’s important to see your dentist or endodontist as soon as possible. The earlier your symptoms are diagnosed and treated, the better your outcome is likely to be. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at one of our six North Shore or Boston-area locations.

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