Referred Tooth Pain: Are Your Teeth Lying to You?

It's possible for teeth to register pain when there's no clear reason to do so. Your teeth are making an honest mistake, and this condition is known as referred tooth pain. Something might be amiss elsewhere, but your seemingly healthy teeth are the ones to register discomfort. What causes this issue, and how is it treated?

Pain Pathways

It can help to know how your body registers pain. Your body has what is called pain pathways, which are orders of neurones that deliver the sensation from the point of origin to your brain. However, since there are different pathways, sometimes the point of origin becomes confused. While you might feel a toothache, the point of origin is in fact somewhere nearby. 

After a Dental Procedure

Referred pain is reasonably common after some forms of dental work. This can be the case when you've recently received a root canal or treatment for an abscessed tooth. As the infection and inflammation subside in and around the tooth in question, adjacent teeth can begin to register pain, despite being perfectly healthy. This is not a cause for concern, and any referred pain won't hang around. It can be managed with over-the-counter pain medication if needed. However, since this pain is occurring shortly after dental work, it's wise to notify your dentist. They may wish to inspect your recent dental work to ensure that you are dealing with referred tooth pain, and aren't experiencing a secondary infection related to your initial problem.

Recurring Dental Pain

Does this mean that you should only see a dentist for referred tooth pain if this issue should develop following a dental procedure? This largely depends on the severity and location of the pain. That said, any recurring dental pain should always be investigated by your dentist, even if you will ultimately be referred to another medical professional for treatment. Sinus infections can sometimes cause pain to radiate downwards and be manifested as a toothache in an upper tooth. The same can occur with cluster headaches and various types of migraines. Of course, nothing should be assumed, and any dental disorders must first be ruled out. 

Referred tooth pain can be quite a curious experience — and is often a mystery. This mystery may well go away without the need for further investigation, but sometimes you and your dentist must work together to solve it. Contact a dentist for more information.