Tag Archives: Tooth Pain

Which is the Best for Me, a Doctor or a Dentist?

I’ve had a sore spot on my gums on and off for a bit now. But, when it does hurt, so do my sinuses. I can’t decide if I should see a doctor or a dentist?

Mandy F. – Atlanta


It sounds to me right now the best course for you is to see a dentist. Your description leads me to think your pulp is flaring up. While it’s not bothering you too much now, it could get serious quickly. We’ve known many patients who were fine then unexpectedly woke up with a swollen jaw.

The sinus pain is likely from eye teeth. If they have long roots, the pain can be shooting upward to your sinuses.

It’s pretty common also when people have a sinus infection to feel it in the upper teeth as well. Call your dentist. He’ll do a quick examination and he’ll let you know what he thinks.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Jay Goldstein.

Dental crown pain with any pressure?

I had a dental crown fitted on a bottom back molar around a year ago and haven’t had any problems with it until now. I ate some ice cream last night and since then my tooth has been very painful when putting any pressure on the tooth like brushing and trying to eat. What’s going on with the tooth?

Thanks, Neal

Dear Neal,

Sorry to hear about your tooth pain. Due to the fact that your tooth has not caused any problem in the past until now there could be a possibility that the nerve of the tooth has an infection. However, it could also be referred pain from another tooth next to the one with the dental crown. Whenever tooth pain is experienced with pressure while eating it’s a sign that the nerve in the tooth is dying or that the bite may need adjusting. If the nerve of the tooth is dying and infected it would require a root canal to stop the infection and tooth pain. We recommend you see your dentist as soon as possible to have the tooth looked at and determine what the cause of your tooth pain is.

Post courtesy of Dr. Goldstein, Cleveland Cosmetic Dentist

Can my dentist really diagnose my problem that fast?

I recently had to visit my dentist because one of my teeth was really giving me problems.  It is a molar with a really big filling and in the last week it is all of a sudden really super sensitive to hot and cold, and even air. When I went in to see my dentist, he barely asked me at all about the problem, just blew some air on the tooth from different angles and asking what hurt. Then he put some desensitizing gel on it (I only know because I asked him what it was, or he would not have told me) and said if the pain lingered he would have to take out my tooth’s nerve. How could he possibly know that with a couple puffs of air?

I have braces on right now. Do you suppose that has anything to do with this? I’ve heard that braces can make your teeth sensitive. Or maybe that filling is loose or something. My doctor didn’t talk at all about what might have caused this, or if the problem is going to just go away on its own or what. He did not schedule me to have the nerve removed, though. Can you help me figure out what might be happening?


Carlie in Vicksburg, MI

Dear Carlie,

Pain issues are sometimes very murky to diagnose, and sometimes very clear. The clinical presentation you describe sounds like a clearly diagnosed case.

If a tooth hurts when you blow air on it, that generally indicates that there is an protected, sensitive spot on the tooth. If you then put desensitizing gel on the spot and the pain goes away, that would indicate that the situation could potentially resolve without treatment. Transient pain indicates that the pulp (nerve) of the tooth is irritated, but possibly not critically.

If the pain lingers for more than a few seconds after application of the gel, the irritation of the nerve cannot heal on its own, and a root canal treatment is necessary. This is likely what your dentist was talking about when he said he would have to “take out the nerve”. In other cases, your dentist could test with cold, heat or even with electrical impulses to diagnose the source of the pain and extent of the problem.

It is possible that this problem arose from an issue with your braces, but pretty unlikely given what you have described. Your guess that something is wrong with the filling is a lot more likely–perhaps some leaking around it, or decay underneath. You may need to have the filling replaced with a composite white filling.

You have a lot of questions that really should have been answered by your dentist, and that seems to be the real crux of the issue. Great dental care requires trust and open communication, and that does not sound like the relationship you have with your dentist. This may be the dentist your parents chose for you, the only one you’ve ever seen, but that does not mean that you can’t ask for more information. If you don’t get all your questions answered, consider finding a new dentist.

For more information about a related issue, see our link about gum disease.