1) Is your tooth sensitive to heat or cold, or perhaps both?
2) Is chewing painful?
3) On the scale of 1 to 10, what is the intensity of your pain?
4) Is your pain sharp (with a stabbing sensation) or dull and throbbing?
5) Are you in constant pain or is the pain intermittent (does it come and go)?
6) What makes your pain worse?
7) What makes your pain better?
Many medical conditions can mimic a toothache: migraine headache; fibromyalgia; certain viral infections and many others. Sometimes tooth pain is localized, but it is possible to be referred (felt) in a distant part of the body. Such pain may be as benign as the body's response to medications, or as life-threatening as a myocardial infarction (MI) or heart-attack--the symptoms of which can refer to the left side of the mandible (jaw) and thus be confused with toothache. Therefore, as proper diagnosis of dental pain is imperative to a successful resolution, you should never delay having such pain evaluated by a well-trained medical or dental-health professional.
Often tooth decay doesn't hurt until it reaches the nerve. It is not uncommon for a patient to have a tremendous cavity who may have never felt any discomfort prior to having emergent dental pain! Dr. Bell employs the Diagnodent diode laser to detect cavities while the decay is too small to be otherwise detected (easily restorable); thereby avoiding the necessity of pulp treatment (root canal). Dr. Bell provides this Diagnodent service at no extra charge.
Chronic dental pain can be complicated, multi-factorial and requires a consummate understanding of oral/facial anatomy; occlusion; tempormandibular joints; and functions of speech. For example, the bite-force pressure (consequent potential for pain) can be tremendous because the masseter muscle (used for chewing) is among the most powerful in the body. Therefore, a thorough dental exam by a proficient dental professional is essential to the achievement of a correct diagnosis; suppression of immediate symptoms as well as long-term strategies for pain relief.
To facilitate the diagnosis, please avoid pain medications in the hours immediately preceding your dental appointment.
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