Phantom tooth pain, also known as Atypical Odontalgia, occurs in an area of the mouth where tooth extraction has recently taken place. Though the tooth itself is gone and the actual source of pain removed, the gum and jaw area where the tooth was located can continue to ache, similar to the way a patient with an amputated limb may feel pain in the area where the limb used to be.
Signs of Phantom Tooth Pain
This can be due to the nerve ending in the area sending signals of pain to the patient’s brain, though no physical cause for the pain exists within the mouth. There may be an existing issue with the way the patient’s brain interprets pain signals, or this issue may be isolated to the nerves in the tooth area. A dentist or endodontist may take some time to diagnose a patient with phantom tooth pain, as there are no external signs of the pain. Diagnosis is typically done through observation over time and process of elimination to ensure there is no physical cause for the pain. The pain itself is reported as a chronic, repeated dull ache in the area where a tooth was extracted, which can spread to the surrounding area of the face and jaw bone. Since it is caused by an error in the processing of pain between the nerves and the brain, phantom tooth pain does not typically get better or stop without some form of treatment by a professional.
Treatment of Phantom Tooth Pain
Visit your Houston endodontist to treat phantom tooth pain. As this pain is tied to the association between nerve endings in the gums and the part of the brain that receives pain signals, treatment for the pain is typically done through medication as opposed to topical treatments on or around the site of the extraction.
Antidepressants can be an effective treatment for the symptoms of phantom tooth pains. Patients may find that the phantom tooth pain does not subside naturally and medications have to be taken indefinitely to control phantom tooth pain.