The nature of initial tooth pain

Posted , 7 users are following.

This is a question for you with experience (or knowledge) of TN-related tooth pain!

(English isn’t my first language, so excuse me if some more technical terms are a bit odd.)

I probably have a very early stage of TN. In short: it began with tooth pain, 3 dental visits and no damage found really explaining the pain. Before my third dental visit, the pain (still localized to the teeth root area-ish) would start to be triggered by certain movement of and/or touching the gum, upper lip and nose. Then I had a short episode of two or three full-blown bursts of electric, fiery pain from my nose area, via the cheek up to the eye. Right now, I'm back to just having the initial tooth sensitivity (sudden pain), nose area is back to normal (no sensitivity) and no more bursts of face pain.

I’ve read enough about TN to know that tooth pain is a very common first sign, but more specific information is hard to come by. A lot of people (some, at least) have done multiple root canals or pulled multiple teeth, and additionally the dental work rarely (never?) seemed to help. Is this because the pain is/was hard to localize, or did other teeth start to hurt after the initial tooth was "taken care of"?

The reason I’m asking, is that my pain originates from a specific tooth – there’s no question about it. The pain is to some extent triggered by sweet and sour, but especially any form av vibration, be it an electrical tooth brush or if it comes into contact with another tooth when I speak, hum or cough. I can only bite into soft things; anything hard or crisp triggers pain.

I have sensitive teeth in general (corrosion to the enamel and exposed tooth necks), so the sensitivity in itself isn’t weird, and generally my tooth paste for sensitive teeth takes care of that. Not with this tooth.

Ok, here’s the actual question (sorry for tiny wall of text):

I’ve read that in some rare cases, a tooth can itself be a trigger zone, and I’m wondering if this could be the case for me. Or am I just experiencing what everybody else are/were? If the tooth actually is a trigger zone, would it then make sense to do a root canal..?

0 likes, 11 replies

11 Replies

  • Posted

    To be clear: I have no constant tooth pain, it's only triggered (in varying degrees) by what's mentioned above; sugar, acidity, vibration and touch. When it was worse, some mimic/movement of the mouth would also trigger the tooth pain. I can now distinguish the pain from that of an ordinary sensitive tooth.

  • Posted

    Okay so TN is sneaky... It is a problem with your trigeminal nerve so not to do with your teeth however i understand the frustration of having teeth pain and convincing myself and my dentist that if i can just take this one tooth out which seemed to be the source of all my pain all my problems will go away! The tooth came out and i still have pain as if there is a tooth there but that's because it isn't tooth pain it is nerve pain and unfortunately no amount of tooth extractions or root canals will get rid of the pain. I am on pain management medication which lessens my pain considerably but i still have daily shooting pain in this tooth area and my nose. My best advice is try to work out your triggers and avoid them where you can and do some research on Trigeminal Neuralgia. Once i accepted that dental work won't help I accepted that what I have is a condition that needs pain management and worked with my neurologist to help me with that.

    It is very frustrating, and painful but you will definitely get there. I highly recommend heat bags too they have helped me a lot. Xx

    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply, RachRoux!

      I’m painfully aware (pun intended, sorry) that this is a neurological condition, and not something stemming from a tooth. I’ve done some rather extensive reading about TN the last weeks, and/but this is something I didn’t see specifically addressed. Let me try to explain better.

      By the way – maybe I should also ask you what kind of pain you had in your tooth, before having it extracted, as you say you still get the same sensation of pain.

      In my case, this specific, single tooth is hyper sensitive and is reacting to direct stimulus. I have no general or constant pain in it whatsoever – it only hurts if being provoked/triggered. Maybe this is the case for many/most people, but I’ve yet to find some specific information regarding this.

      To my understanding the nerve in the tooth is connected to the trigeminal nerve, and if a tooth can in itself be a trigger zone, some sort of logic would dictate (and I may be totally wrong here) that killing the nerve in the tooth (= the ability for the tooth to react to sensation) would cause it not to be able to function as a trigger zone. Because it wouldn’t be connected to the trigeminal nerve.

      This is of course if the tooth is a trigger zone, which is just something I've read is possible (and rare), and it’s not just neurological phantom pain. Doing a root canal or removing the tooth wouldn’t remove the cause of TN, it would only remove a trigger zone.

      Then again, I’m obviously not a neurologist, and as far as I know there’s nothing saying this will not just happen to more teeth, and/or turn to a more general tooth pain. I’m just trying to understand exactly what’s going on.

  • Posted

    hi this is very similar to my first symptoms of tn except the pain moved around the left side of my mouth top and bottom. pain was like electric shocks and no painkillers helped. it seemed to originate in a space where there was no tooth which confused me. i had root canal treatment and fillings replaced which made no difference. the pain started whilst flying and came every time i flew. the condition of my teeth sound like yours which i suspected was the cause of the pain however it started coming at other times. my dentist referred me to an orofacial consultant who explained that he was sure it was tn. ive been on medication for 18 months and been pain free, thank god, since then. it took a while to establish the best tablets and side effects stopped after a while. i am able to fly again but always anxious incase it returns. i hope you get help and become pain free soon.

    • Posted

      Hi Betty!

      When you say that the pain moved around, did it (and any (hyper)sensitivity) move between specific teeth, or were your pain originating from a general area? And how/when did the pain seem to originate from a space without a tooth? Was the pain only triggered by stimulus, or did it also manifest spontaneously? Did you only have sharp pain, or also a dull/throbbing pain?

      OMG, I must seem manic… Sorry for all the questions, and their specific nature, but I’m really interested in understanding the nature of reported teeth pain, both the type of it and its localization. I guess trying to get a picture of all of this gives me some sort of sense of control. :’D

      Maybe I should just start a thread with a TN-related tooth pain questionnaire instead. 😄

  • Posted

    HI ouC

    The pain that I experiecne is excatly what you have radiates from a specific tooth/root...deep in the jaw. this has always been a sensitive tooth but when my meds are no longer controlling the pain it is agony. Any facial movement or movement within my mouth...swallowing, salivating etc will trigger an 'attack' . i have had several dental check ups and the tooth/root is not the cause! I was diagnosed with TN 3 years ago and - frustratingly - an MRI has shown no visible cause....i think I understand what you are trying to put across and i would be thrilled to know if this is the case....keep us posted!

    good luck 😃 x

  • Posted

    hi the pain moved around my mouth and felt like it was my gums that suffered the electric shocks. i was told its actually not your teeth which are causing the pain, rather the trigeminal nerve which has 3 branches coming into your face therefore thats why it was strange when the pain started in the gap before going around my top and bottom gums.. ive been told that some people experience the pain in other ares of their face, depending on which branch of the trigeminal nerve is affected. mine is the nerve going into my jaw which affects my gums. the only trigger i had at the start was whilst flying which i dont know if it was caused by the vibration or the altitude. after that the pain came at home and came every day lasting up to 10 minutes. the pain was mainly shock like pains but not really a throbbing pain and would stop with no warning. i researched tn on various websites and forums as i wanted to know everything about the condition but it was overwhelming and depressing but helpful also. i hope you get some understanding and relief as its a very difficult condition to have. good luck.

  • Posted

    I am new to TN and related issues, myself... but I will tell you that although my probable TN pain is recent (I haven't yet been officially diagnosed by a facial pain specialist or neurologist), it seemed to begin with tooth pain in my case, too -- although, a severe sinus infection 2 years ago may have had something to do with it, too. That was when I noticed my eyelid slightly drooping, as well as the side of my mouth. But then, after my 2nd tooth extraction this year, the outright pain began-- though it wasn't as bad as recently. I think also that my dentist jabbed the nerve when injecting me-- but I can't prove that; I just noticed that I felt a peculiar sensation. And after this extraction, it took forever for the pain to go away (like, two months!) I got a sinus scan, but it wasn't my sinuses, at this point. Then I went away... returned, bit down on a potato chip; had a weird electric sensation (and I think I broke tooth then, too); my system went into shock. Went to sleep, and awakened w/ nausea; vomited for three hours; then, the intense, suicidal pain began. Got a dental consult; they suggested I had "atypical" facial pain, or TN. That's all I know, so far. Oh, and I'm now on* Tegretol* (Carbamazepine), which definitely does help to control the excruciating pain.

    So also, I have a broken tooth: but the experts don't think that it's the tooth causing the pain... why? Because the pain moves over the side of my face, and it often feels as though two or three teeth are involved-- and, I suppose, because of my history. I will get an extraction at a later date, once this TN pain is under control, and everyone has a clearer sense of what is going on.

    It could be that you have some nerve irritation, but I'm not a doctor nor a dentist. You need to consult some sort of professional. Good luck!

  • Posted

    Thanks for your replies, Saveusmavis, Betty58 & linette61034!

    From what I've found, tooth pain related to TN is a very complex matter. Not only does it differentiate in its nature (type of pain as well as origin), but in a lot of cases also seem to relate to actual current or earlier dental problems.

    In any case – I've managed to track down a potential source of information regarding the rare possibility of a tooth in itself being a trigger zone (a lot of uncertainty in that sentence), and will follow it up here as soon as (or if) I find out more!

  • Posted

    I had a tranforaminal steriois injection that missed in the left side of my neck and I then developed, amongst many other severe problems, shingles in my left ear and the entire left side of my scalp. Five years ago I had a crown fall off and the dentist quickly decided to pull it. After the extraction the pain increased and moved into the next lower molar, The dentist then did a root canal and this made it excruciating. They then pulled that molar and it went into the next molar.They repeated the same process with the third molar. I then learned that it was problems with the nerve not the tooth and it is very bad to do a root canal. I did find that my sharp needle like pain, in my teeth and the gums below the tooth changed to a burning gum pain after the extractions. Still bad but not the unbearable glass splinter like feeling I had.

    Then crazily it moved into my top molar. I complained of pain and they found a tooth infection that had gone into my bone. They wanted to save the tooth because I had already lost 3 molars and did a root canal and apioectomy. This made the pain unbearable and they reported they had to extract that molar(now 4 molars). The pain is now in my top back molar, beside the one they extracted. It feels like a piece of glass is in there. They told me to wait for a year to see if the pain decreased but it has only increased. I am on gabapentin but it does not hit the nerve pain completely.

    I tried scrambler therapy but that made my teeth in the front feel like there was a "zing" in them and the pain remained. It may have made it worse.I am scheduled to have the 5th molar out. If anyone has any advice or medicines that have helped I would welcome feedback. I do not enjoy eating any more and the pain greatly effects my desire to socialize. I often try to work with my mind and breath,(meditation), but it does feel like I am silently being tortured and no one really understands it at all. They may say you look fine or "I have had a tooth extracted and it is not that bad" but that is not the issue at all! I wish it would heal in a few days! That would be a dream! I have tried medical marijuana but that did not seem to help the severe pain either. Thanks for reading this. I have tried to be specific about the type of tooth pain I experienced and then it changing to a burning gum syndrome.

Report or request deletion

Thanks for your help!

We want the community to be a useful resource for our users but it is important to remember that the community are not moderated or reviewed by doctors and so you should not rely on opinions or advice given by other users in respect of any healthcare matters. Always speak to your doctor before acting and in cases of emergency seek appropriate medical assistance immediately. Use of the community is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy and steps will be taken to remove posts identified as being in breach of those terms.