How to distinguish tooth and nerve pain?

How to distinguish tooth and nerve pain | Dental Hygiene

Very often patients report to dentist with radiating pain all over the face and neck. Most of them are
able to relate it to a specific tooth which may be the root cause of pain, but there are some patients
who report generalised pain along the face and neck and are unable to locate the pain to a tooth

Perplexed with radiating pain along face and neck? Contact us at Oris Dental Center

Tooth pain can be of two types depending on the condition involved. Caries are the main culprits
usually. Sudden onset of pain overnight, increasing on eating hot and cold foods and on lying down
position is usually related to an acute condition of dental caries in a tooth. This pain is very
unbearable and if infection is involved it is usually associated with swelling and mild fever. This type
of pain can be controlled with antibiotics and analgesics followed by a root canal treatment. If the
caries is very invasive then extraction of tooth may be recommended.

This acute pain if not attended properly, can lead to chronic nagging pain which may be on and off
over a period of time. This pain is low in intensity, nagging and disturbing the patients from doing
any other work. But it is relatively bearable, when compared to acute conditions, which is one of the
reason why patients opt for over the counter medications, instead of coming over to a dentist. Line
of treatment will be root canal treatment at the earliest or extraction of tooth.

Generalised pain all over the mouth and face region, can be because of poor gum health. Tartar or
yellow deposits on teeth surfaces, causes gum recession, swelling, bleeding and inflammation
leading to pain and sensitivity on all teeth. They are aggravated by hot and cold foods/drinks. A
complete scaling and root planning, will help restore back good oral hygiene and relief from pain.

Impacted tooth especially the third molars are usually the cause of pain at their erupting state of
about 18-25 years. This pain can be very intense, radiating all along the face and neck region. A good
X-ray and patient history will help the dentist locate the exact cause of the pain. At later ages, food
impaction of un-erupted wisdom tooth, can cause severe infection and pain. Surgical removal of
tooth will help relieve the pain.

Rarely patients complain of pain along the face region, without any involvement of the tooth. Facial
nerve and trigeminal nerve can be involved in such neuralgias. Nerve pain is described as a
scintillating pain, or like a sword piercing pain which has a sudden onset and last for only very few
seconds and then fade away. . The patient gives a history – such as episodes of pain occurring while
washing their face, brushing their teeth, shaving their face or contact with cold air. An accurate
history will help the dentist diagnose the type of pain, whether it is associated with the tooth or

For more enquiries call us at Oris Dental Center.

General Dentistry

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