Many times a patient will come in for emergency dental treatment and have excruciating pain. They will say, “Well it only bothered me a little bit so I kept putting it off.” If several months have elapsed since the first symptoms, usually the damage is done and the prognosis for the tooth in question becomes less favorable. Here are some tips on dental pain you should not ignore, including one that may be a sign of a heart attack!
Cracked Tooth Syndrome
This is an incomplete fracture of a tooth. Nothing is visibly wrong with the tooth on the outside but internally there are cracks in the enamel and dentin. Symptoms are variable; some are pain on chewing, referred pain, and sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks. The most common symptom is sharp pain upon releasing chewing pressure. Most cracks rarely show up on an x-ray. Lower molars of older individuals are most frequently affected.
This symptom basically means that tooth has a painful response to hot or cold foods / drinks that lingers. It can also commonly present with spontaneous (unprovoked) pain. Dynamic changes can occur quickly, the tooth can go from being quiet to acute pain within hours. Sometimes pain can be relieved by applying heat or cold. It can be sharp or dull, localized or referred. Treatment to address pain entails initiating a root canal immediately.
An abscess consists of a painful swelling with pus around the roots of the tooth. This indicates a very late stage where the tooth has already died and the infection has spread beyond the confines of the jaw bone. Symptoms are rapid onset of slight to severe swelling, moderate to severe pain, and tenderness. In severe cases, a fever maybe present as well.
Sometimes jaw pain that persists for more than a few days or becomes worse can indicate teeth grinding / clenching, or better known as bruxism. If symptoms do not improve with a nightguard, it may require further treatment by a TMJ specialist. Jaw pain can also be a symptom of a heart attack in women. Women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms than chest pain such as shortness of breath, nausea, and arm, back, jaw pain. For more information, contact Newton Wellesley Dental Partners.