Great Question. Our mouths are pretty amazing when it comes to chronic pain. There’s a lot of accommodation that goes on. For example, if a tooth hurts to chew on, you will artfully avoid it; If a tooth is highly sensitive to cold, you will probably tend towards warmer beverages. If a tooth is throbbing, you’ll probably take some Ibuprofen. Sub-consciously, your body has protected you.
BUT. . .
- Gum disease and bone loss doesn’t always hurt
- Cavities (even large ones) don’t always hurt
- Abscesses don’t always hurt
- Oral Cancer doesn’t usually hurt
You may not even know that you have a big problem until the dentist finds it on x-ray, or your mouth is suddenly swollen.
Here are things to look for:
- Gums that bleed when you brush
- Areas where large chunks of food are always getting caught
- Swelling in the mouth and a chronic salty taste
- Mouth odors, especially when you pull things out from between your teeth
- A chronic sore on the tongue
- Pain on chewing
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
Not every pain is a cavity. A lot of things can mimic that pain. Think about keeping a log for your dentist: what were you eating when you had the pain? Did the pain just come out of the blue? Did it wake you from your sleep? Did it last long? Is it localized or is it jumping around? All of these hints can give us an idea of what is going on and how to treat it.
This is part of what makes my job so interesting. There’s a lot of detective work involved.
Last word – try not to self-diagnose. Looking up dental problems and cures on the internet is maddening – there’s a ton of misinformation and bad advice. You really need a trained eye here. Go see your dentist for heaven’s sakes!
Disclaimer: The information contained on Dr. Liftig’s website is meant to provide general information about dentistry. The information contained within this website is not intended to provide medical or dental advice, and should not be used as a substitute for medical and dental advice. Consult your dentist or physician for your specific condition. Dr. Liftig accepts no liability for the information provided pertaining to treatment.