Dental Pain – Types of Pain You Should Know

2 min

Dental pain is an unpleasant sensation causing emotional disturbance for the person associated with or without tissue damage.

The description or the character of the pain experienced by individuals is elaborated in this article.

Based on the Duration of the Dental Pain:

Acute Dental Pain: Presentation of the pain is severe but it only lasts for a short duration.

This is mostly our body’s stimulus to an unknown physical infliction/pressure on any region in our body. Once the questionable physical stimulus is removed the pain reduces or disappears.

Example: Pain caused in our gums by improper brushing or toothbrush. This reduces once the brush is changed or the technique of brushing is modified.

Chronic Dental Pain: Persistent pain that is localized to a particular region and stays for more than a week or month.

The pain may be a continuous pain or an intermittent pain that appears at periodic intervals. It is usually an acute pain ignored at the early stages.

Example: Pain caused by dental pulp inflammation (pulpitis) or inflammation of the surrounding tissues of the teeth (Periodontitis). This type of pain reduces only after proper treatment for the teeth.

Based on the Course of the Dental Pain:

Referred Dental Pain: The actual origin of the pain is far from the site where the pain is perceived.

The mechanism is due to the interconnecting sensory nerves. Infections in the throat or ear are most commonly perceived as jaw pain or temporomandibular joint pain.

Sinus infections often inflict pain in the upper jaw. Associated infection of the head and neck often express the pain in the teeth.

Radiating Dental Pain: Pain travels along the entire length of the nerve from its origin to the nerve endings.

They are sharp pain and are intermittent. They are triggered on touch / while speaking/chewing etc. It affects one side of the face for example trigeminal neuralgia (pain along the trigeminal nerve and its branches).

Based on the Nature of Dental Pain:

Sharp pricking pain: Pain is described as numerous prick with a sharp object at the same time.

The pain is usually acute and reduces when the stimulus is removed. For example, tooth sensitivity arises due to the consumption of hot or cold drinks / by blowing air.

Stabbing pain: It feels like a stab or punch.

The pain is continuous can be relieved by taking pain relievers. The symptoms present in conditions where the tooth is affected by decay or abscess (a fluid-filled cavity) or impacted teeth (unerupted teeth buried inside the bone) or due to habits like Bruxism (night grinding habit).

Throbbing pain: It is common in tooth decay and gum associated diseases like recession (loss of the gum exposing root), cellulitis, inflammation of gum (gingivitis) or Periodontitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth).

It precipitates as strong pulsating pain that is continuous in most conditions.


  • Follow proper tooth brushing techniques.
  • Consult a dentist when you feel a pain.
  • Change your toothbrush if you feel gum irritation.
  • Identify the questionable tooth and take proper care.
  • Don’t neglect the pain as it leads to severe disabilities.
  • Have a follow up with your dentist after the treatment for the pain.

Hope this article has enlightened you on different types of dental pain and how to differentiate from simple dental pain to complex situation. Any doubts do post in the comments box will answer them ASAP.


Pain: an overview (LANCET Journal)

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Dr Arun

Dr. Arun is a practicing dentist with more than 11 years of experience. Loves to blog and in constant search of new knowledge in dentistry and health niche.


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