Somatic Pain Disorder
This condition stems from local (oral/periodontal) tissue
injury, and shows up as inflammation and local tooth problems,
such as decay.
For example, you go to the hygienist for a thorough
cleaning and now your gums feel raw and swollen. After
leaving the office, you are having a sensation of pain. (Does
this sensation make you feel that you want to return for
another cleaning? No!)
My patients don’t experience this pain sensation,
because after a gum treatment I massage the tissue therapeutically
with herbal toothpaste and clove oil or oreganol
on a toothbrush. During a cleansing treatment, I dip the
instrument into the oil to lubricate and numb the tissue.
Most patients feel soothed and nurtured after a treatment,
and end up asking to come back.
Remedies: Have clove oil on hand for emergencies. If
you feel pain on a particular tooth, dab a Q-tip into the clove
oil and swab the oil onto the tooth surface. This will remove
the painful sensation. However, if you see a dentist or
hygienist regularly, a painful situation like this will occur
much less frequently. Prevention can keep painful situations
Another cause of mouth pain may be an abscess, which is a
localized infection of either the gums or a decayed tooth. A
raw or abscessed gum can cause pain, and may even feel like
a toothache or a nerve dying. The painful sensation will
probably come on when you are drinking or eating cold
food. Look in the mirror and see if you can locate the source
of the pain.
Remedies: If your gum is raw and swollen and you see
a bump on the gum that might be an abscess, rinse with
warm sea salt water to draw the infection out. To reduce
swelling, steep a tea bag in boiling water. Remove the tea
bag from the water, let it cool, and place the bag on the
source of the pain. The tannic acid in the tea bag will reduce
the swelling and calm the irritation until you see your dentist
This condition is due to the impaction, or crowding, of
wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are found in the back of your
mouth. Because of crowding, the area around the wisdom
tooth may be hard to reach for cleaning purposes. The gum
that surrounds this area then can get swollen and loose.
Remedies: Use an oral irrigator with peroxide (see
chapter 5). Also, seek the advice of a dentist or an hygienist.
To eliminate swelling, pour boiling water over a tea
bag. Remove the bag from the water and let it cool. Then
place the tea bag over the wisdom teeth that are causing
you problems and bite down. You may get a sense of relief.
There are only three to five cases per year per 100,000 people
with this condition, and it is more common in those over
fifty years of age. In this condition, you may think that you
have a toothache when the pain isn’t really related to a
tooth. Still, to rule out the possibility that it’s not a
toothache, seek professional dental advice. A symptom of
this condition may be that you have pain-free intervals—the
pain comes and goes without reason. If a dental condition
or a tooth problem causes your pain, you will have a continuous
aching, throbbing pain. Any stimulation worsens
the pain. With trigeminal neuralgia, you feel only intermittent,
brief, electric shock–like pain. A light touch will trigger
the pain, which is part of trigeminal neuralgia. This
condition is frequently misdiagnosed by dentists.
Remedies: Seek professional advice and have your dentist
or physician diagnose the problem. You should be treated
for this condition professionally.
Phantom Pain (Atypical Facial Pain)
Phantom pain is a persistent pain in the teeth, face, or alveolar
process (bone) following a root canal therapy, an apicoectomy
(surgical removal of an infection or cyst), or a
tooth extraction. It may be a deep, dull ache with periodic
sharp attacks. Three to six percent of those who undergo a
root canal therapy have a phantom pain sensation in the
area of the treated tooth. Phantom pain also is often experienced
in people who have lost limbs; they can still “feel”
the presence of the limb and pain that does not diminish in
Remedies: Check with your dentist, who will try to
determine the source of your pain and proceed with the professional
treatment of choice.
Burning mouth is an intraoral chronic pain disorder that is
usually without associated mucosal or oral signs. You may
feel a burning sensation on your tongue, and stinging and
itching in the front and back regions of your tongue. It can
be caused by a geographic tongue (inflammation sporadically
mapped out on your tongue) or an infection such as
candidiasis. Or you may have a contact allergy from wearing
Other causes may be a nervous condition, such as the biting
of one’s tongue or other tongue habits, or an allergic
reaction to medications being taken. A person can have
burning of the tongue or surrounding areas if he or she is
anemic; with this condition there is a reddened area on the
tongue called glossitis. This condition is either continuous
or intermittent, and typically worsens as the day progresses.
It is relieved temporarily by eating and drinking. It is estimated
that 8 percent of males and 6 percent of females suffer
from this condition.
Remedies: Seek a physician’s advice rather than that of a
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
Still another painful condition is related to temporomandibular
disorder. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is
the joint by the ear that allows the mouth to open and close.
This joint can become arthritic, much as any joint in your
body can, and can cause you pain.
Usually people complain about arthritis in their knees or
in the joints of their fingers. But every joint is composed of
synovial fluid and ligament attachment, and thus is subject
to arthritis. A dental professional may be called on to locate
and manage the complaints that occur around the TMJ.
Remedies: The treatment of choice by a dentist probably
would be a night guard. This will not cure the condition,
however, if the joint itself is arthritic, only ease the
To relieve pain immediately, use warm compresses on
the outside of the joint.
Often found in adults and teenagers, ulcers are indicative of
a run-down physical condition. These open sores in the
mouth can also occur after antibiotic therapy and during
recovery from influenza. When the body’s immune system
experiences much stress, the normal ecology of the mouth is
compromised. Ulcers can be very painful, especially when
one is eating and drinking.
Remedies: A mouthwash made with red sage leaves or
echinacea by Bioforce will usually reduce the pain.