Diagnosing Oral Pain

Diagnosis requires:

  • A history that includes:
    • Duration of pain
    • If chewing, temperature change, or sweet foods trigger pain
  • A head and neck examination that includes:
    • Extra-oral examination to evaluate for swelling and external masses
    • Teeth
    • Intra-oral soft tissues

The differential diagnosis should include sources of referred pain and pain of nondental origin.

Oral Etiologies

  • Dental:
    • Caries and its sequelae
    • Eruption problems (e.g., pericoronitis)
    • Periodontal problems
    • Trauma
  • Non-dental:
    • Sinusitis
    • Otitis media / otitis externa
    • Oral ulcerations
    • Temporomandibular joint