Tooth Problems

A tooth that causes ongoing pain may be a sign of a serious problem. Use this chart to determine if you need to see your dentist right away.

Step 2

Answering Questions

  • Did you have an injury that knocked out a tooth?

  • Do you have pain that is specific to one tooth?

  • Have you broken or chipped a tooth, or is the tooth loose in its socket?

  • Do you feel pain when you eat cold foods or liquids?

  • Do you have redness or swelling around one or more teeth, in your gums or in your face?

  • Do you have redness and swelling in large areas of your gums, or is the skin inside your mouth peeling?

  • Do you have headaches, pain near your ear, or do you hear a cracking sound when you bite or chew?

Step 3

Possible Causes

  • Diagnosis

    You have TOOTH LOSS.

    Self Care


    See your dentist or go to the emergency room right away. Keep the tooth moist. It’s best to keep the tooth in your mouth until you get to the dentist or emergency room. The tooth may be saved.

  • Diagnosis

    Your pain may be from a FRACTURED, CRACKED, or LOOSE TOOTH.

    Self Care

    Save any pieces of the tooth, wrap them in a cool, moist cloth or keep them in your mouth (without swallowing them) and see your dentist as soon as possible.

  • Diagnosis

    Your pain may be from a CAVITY or SENSITIVE TEETH.

    Self Care

    Make an appointment to see your dentist. Proper brushing and flossing along with fluoride rinses and coatings, as suggested by your dentist, may prevent tooth decay.

  • Diagnosis

    You may have a dental ABSCESS or an INFECTION in a tooth, gums or other tissues.

    Self Care

    See your dentist or doctor right away.

  • Diagnosis

    You may have an infection such as TRENCH MOUTH, GINGIVITIS, or PERIODONTITIS. A rare medication reaction, STEVENS-JOHNSON REACTION, may also cause this.

    Self Care

    See your dentist or doctor right away. You may be given antibiotics to stop the infection. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, may relieve discomfort. Many of these infections can be prevented with proper dental care, such as brushing and flossing regularly. Stop any new medications until you have seen your doctor.

  • Diagnosis

    Your pain may be from TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ) SYNDROME, a condition that affects the jaw. This can also be worsened by grinding your teeth, which can occur while you are sleeping.

    Self Care

    Try relaxing your jaw when you are tense or nervous. Stop chewing gum. Try a mild anti-inflammatory medicine, such as ibuprofen. If you don’t get better, see your dentist.

  • Self Care

    For more information, please talk to your doctor or your dentist. If you think the problem is serious, call your doctor or your dentist right away.

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