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Dental and Oral Health (Adults)

Cause of Inflammation?



I have what I think is an inflammation in my tooth or bone, which is accompanied by fairly considerable pain. I feel it is swollen, primarily because my bite now seems off, and I am occasionally biting my cheek when eating. The tooth is tender, but not painful to touch, and not sensitive to biting or chewing.

The pain is present in an area that had a root canal several months ago. Pain has been recurrent off and on in that area since then, though my endodontist did not observe an infection or other dental problem when I revisited in May. This round of pain seemed to arise spontaneously, with no particular trigger, with the possible exception of a rather deep teeth cleaning about a week before this most recent flare-up.

I hope to get an opinion from my dentist, of course. But until I can visit, do you have a sense of what might be the possible cause or causes? Is what I describe more consistent with inflammation, or infection? Does it point to a particular course of treatment? As I would like to be pain–free, I will be grateful for any guidance you can provide. Thanks.


There are several reasons that you could be experiencing pain. From your description, it is difficult to diagnose your problem without a physical examination of your oral cavity.

The possibilities are an infection, a cracked root, another tooth near the endodontically treated tooth, and pain associated with excessive clenching or grinding. Although these are the most likely, there could be other causes. This type of pain must be diagnosed in person. Please see your dentist as soon as possible.

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Response by:

D Stanley Sharples, DDS
Clinical Assistant Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University