Atypical odontalgia (atypical facial pain or phantom tooth pain) is chronic tooth pain, or pain at a site where teeth have been removed, without an identifiable cause. Over time, the orofacial pain may spread to involve wider areas of the jaws or face.
It is diagnosed as atypical pain because it doesn't present like typical tooth pain. Typical tooth pain comes and goes. The pain is precipitated by hot or cold food or drink, and/or by chewing or biting on the affected tooth. It is usually caused by decay, periodontal disease, or injury to the tooth and the pain is predictably relieved by treatment of the affected tooth.
With Phantom Tooth Pain – Atypical Odontalgia the pain is described as a unremitting constant throbbing or aching in a tooth, teeth, or extraction site and it is usually not affected by exposure to hot or cold food or drink, or by chewing or biting. With no identifiable cause, patients might seek treatment aimed to relieve the pain such as a filling, a root canal, or even an extraction. This often presents a frustrating and confusing situation for both the patient and the dentist, and can lead to more and more dental treatment, none of which is effective at relieving the pain.
Endodontists are experts at the diagnosis of atypical odontalgia. After a thorough history, clinical examination, and radiographic assessment fails to identify a cause for the pain, the diagnosis can be made and medications can be used to reduce the level of pain.
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