Q: I am frustrated with a tooth pain that has gone on for two years. I know the pandemic has played a role but the tooth was treated and yet still hurts.
The first treatment was a filling. I thought great, that would take away the pain but instead it got worse. When I went back, the dentist said I had to have a root canal. I thought, well maybe that was the need in the first place so I got that done. The specialist said there wasn’t any infection that expressed out of the tooth when she did the work but said the nerve was inflamed or irritated.
After that treatment, the tooth wasn’t sensitive to cold or hot but I couldn’t bite on it. The specialty office said it could take a couple of weeks before things settled. It has been six months and I still can’t bite on it.
I’m really frustrated---I guess it’s the not knowing. My original dentist and another dentist said the root canal job looks excellent and the gums have no pockets and the bone looks good too they said. So, what is it? I don’t want the tooth out! I want to know why it still hurts. Have you heard of this before?
A: Your situation is not common but is not rare either. Every dentist and every dental specialist has dealt with your question if they’ve practiced for more that a year or two. Most of the time well done dentistry produces good serviceable results but in some folk’s issues of bite can come into play and sometimes there may be pain referral. Pain referral is less common than bite issues. Basically, it means that pain is experienced in a healthy tooth but is feeling the pain from an infected or problematic tooth that may be several teeth away.
Problems of bite with teeth hitting improperly or clenching and grinding can produce pain that is reminiscent of decay or nerve inflammation. It can be so painful as to cause pain for a larger area in the upper face or one whole side of the jaw, sometimes producing neck, head and back aches.
On occasion, the problem can be discovered clinically while the person is examined in the dental chair. However, the best way of discovery happens when impressions of the teeth are taken and the models of the teeth are examined in a bite analyzer called an articulator.
Many are the times when the discovery has presented itself to me by this method. The other great benefit of analyzed tooth models is that the patient can see it and be educated as to the cause and effects.
Your situation is knowable and treatable. Have this procedure done. A well-done analysis and executed plan can solve many head, neck and mouth problems.