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Emergency Dental Pain--If you are looking at this page you should call a professional immediately

Lets's put this out there--- we are writing this page as an adjunct to you seeking professional help.  This is not meant to tell you what is wrong.  But, by knowing the basics of what the dentist is looking for should help you communicate with the doctor's office.


Open up the dental pain questionnaire to follow along.  


First let's try to narrow down what your problems are--- here are good definitions.  Symptoms are "what the patient says."  Signs are, "What the doctor sees."


If your signs and symptoms are the same --- Eureka!  We can usually  diagnose your problem pretty consistently.    Another definition, "To diagnose is to know the disease."


The first 3 questions are basically asking, "Do you know where it hurts?"  If you are very specific we can be very specific.  If you say, "It's either top or bottom and both sides."  Diagnosing what we could do to help you could be a problem.  If you can't be more specific we could throw at a dart board and go with that for an answer.


With the next question we try to determine, "What makes it hurt?"  We don't exactly say that to people because it would seem unsensitive.


I am going to tell you what they symptoms GENERALLY mean- but as I said this is to help you communicate this is not a diagnosis. 


HOT - Severe pain to hot is bad.  Usually a nerve going bad.  It can turn into worse pain imagined.  SEE a dentist right away.


COLD - Sensitivity to cold that goes away right away usually means that live dentin is exposed- either through a cavity or wear or fracture.  Get this taken care of now to prevent further problems. With slight sensitivity a simple filling may be all you need.


COLD - Sensitivity that linger with a gnawing pain after the cold is gone implies a nerve that is severely injured. Depending the signs you could go from a simple filling to an extraction.


PRESSURE- If you bite on a Q-tip and the tooth hurts you will usually have either an abcess of the tooth or the bite of the tooth is off.  


SWEETS - Sensitivity to sweets implies the dentin (the inner part of the tooth) is exposed.


CHEWING- That ain't good.  Use a w-tip or bite on a wash cloth and try to determine which tooth is bothering you.  Cracked teeth or teeth with a fracture can hurt when biting and releasing. See the dentist right away to avoid damaging the nerve further.


This form should help you to communicate the problem to the dental team.  Knowledge is power.


A word about Root Canals.  Most people have heard bad stories about endodontics. Most root canals can be treated very comfortably with no pain.  The problem (and bad stories) come from people the waited until they were in severe pain.  The vast majority of the patients we treat with root canals are treated in full comfort.

Dental Pain Questionnaire