How To Help Your Dentist Diagnose The Cause Of Your Toothache

Sometimes the cause of a toothache is obvious. A visible crack or cavity, an abscess along the gums, or a clearly sharp pain when the tooth is tapped allow your dentist to quickly see the problem and, more importantly, fix it. Unfortunately, there are times when your pain feels as if it is radiating from multiple teeth or your entire jaw, and the problem causing the pain is deep in your tooth, where your dentist cannot easily diagnose it. Damaged molars can often make the whole side of your mouth pulse with pain, making it difficult to tell where the problem originates. There are some things you can do to help the diagnostic procedure, though. 

Take Notes About Your Pain 

From the time your toothache begins until you go to the dentist, you should keep notes about the different types of pain you feel and when you feel them. For example, tooth pain that gets worse when you lay down for bed is usually cause by decay, but if your jaw pain is worse when you wake up in the morning you might be grinding your teeth instead. While you are writing things down, make a note of any medications or home remedies you have used and whether they have helped or made the problem worse. 

Refrain From Taking Pain Killers Directly Before Your Appointment 

When you are in pain, your main focus will probably be relief from that pain. Unfortunately, if you take pain killers close to your appointment you may not be able to give your dentist realistic feedback during his or her diagnostic tests, which will make the problem more difficult to find. You can rest assured that as soon as your dentist is sure of the problem, they will probably give you a local anesthetic that will give you the relief you are seeking. 

Of course, if your appointment is more than four hours away, you can take the recommended dose of pain relieving medication. For the most effective options, call your dentist's emergency dental care line. If your appointment is soon and the pain is getting worse, you can try short-term home remedies, such as gargling with salt water or holding an ice pack to your cheek. 

Communicate Honestly With Your Dentist

When you are in pain, it can be difficult to communicate what you are feeling to others. However, it is important that you try to give your dentist an honest picture of the pain you are experiencing. 

During your examination, you should make a cue, such as raising your hand, when the pain becomes too intense to keep your mouth open. You may find that you have to rinse more often during an emergency examination than you would during a regular checkup, to keep the pain at a manageable level. 

Be Prepared For Diagnostic Tests 

One of the first things your dentist will probably request is a set of x-rays showing the problem area. You should keep in mind that dental x-rays use a very low level of radiation, so having to get multiple x-rays in an emergency is not harmful to your health and can show your dentist what the problem is. 

If your dentist cannot see any problems on your x-rays or while exploring your mouth with a blunt instrument, they may use electric and thermal tests. Electric tests involve sending a low electric current through your tooth to test whether the pulp is still alive. The test itself is not painful, but your dentist will have to place a shield around your tooth to separate it from its neighbors, which can be uncomfortable on your gums. Thermal testing involves heating the tooth until it is sensitive and then removing the heat and measuring the time until the sensitivity subsides. This test can be slightly painful and is often a last choice of dentists. 

Being knowledgeable and prepared to work with your dentist to find the cause of your pain can lead to a quicker, more accurate diagnosis and earlier relief to your pain.