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Patient Information | Guide to Dental Symptoms

Symptom: Momentary sensitivity to hot or cold foods

Hot ColdPossible problem: If this discomfort lasts only moments, sensitivity to hot and cold foods generally does not signal a serious problem. The sensitivity may be caused by a small decay, a loose filling or by minimal gum recession that exposes small areas of the root surface.


What to do: Try using toothpastes made for sensitive teeth. Brush up and down with a soft bristle tooth brush; brushing sideways wears away exposed root surfaces. If this is unsuccessful, see your general dentist. If the sensitivity is coming from decay you should see your general dentist.



Symptom: Sensitivity to hot or cold foods after dental treatment.

Hot Cold 2Possible problem: Dental work may inflame the pulp inside the tooth causing temporary sensitivity.


What to do: It can take up to 6 weeks for this type of sensitivity to subside. If the pain persists or worsens, see your general dentist.




Symptom: Sharp pain when biting down on food.

Symptom BitingPossible problem: There are several possible causes of this type of pain: decay, a loose filling or crack in the tooth. There may also be damage to the pulp tissue inside the tooth.


What to do: See a dentist for evaluation. If the problem is pulp tissue damage, your dentist may send you to an endodontist. Endodontists are dentists who specialize in pulp-related procedures. Dr. Farrar will perform a procedure that cleans out the damaged pulp and fills and seals the remaining space. This procedure is commonly called a "root canal."



Symptom: Lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods.

PainPossible problem: This probably means the pulp has been damaged by deep decay or physical trauma.


What to do: See your dentist or Dr. Farrar to save the tooth with root canal treatment.




Symptom: Constant & severe pain & pressure, swelling of gum and sensitivity to touch.

Severe painPossible problem: A tooth may have become abscessed, causing an infection in the surrounding gingival tissue and bone.


What to do: See your general dentist or Dr. Farrar for evaluation and treatment to relieve the pain and save the tooth.




Symptom: Dull ache and pressure in upper teeth and jaw.

Severe PainPossible problem: The pain of a sinus headache is often felt in the face and teeth. Grinding of teeth, a condition known as bruxism, can also cause this type of ache.


What to do: For sinus headache, see your physician. For bruxism, consult your dentist. If pain is severe and chronic, see Dr. Farrar for evaluation.