Posted in Sensitivity, Toothache

The Toothache Quiz

6 questions you should be asking yourself if you have a toothache

Author: Dr Rita Trakhtman, cosmetic dentist, East St Kilda

Here is a self-test you can do at home to give you an idea of the sorts of questions you should be able to answer about your toothache

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 4.44.20 pm


Do you get any pain to hot or cold?

(A) Yes

( B) No

(C) Cold makes my tooth feel better. Sometimes hot makes it worse.


How long does the pain last?

(A) A few seconds. It’s only when I am drinking or eating something hot or cold. Sometimes when I brush my teeth.

(B) Longer than a few minutes. Once I drink something cold, my tooth or teeth are sore for at least 5-10 minutes.

(C) The pain lasts for hours. Sometimes the pain happens randomly.


Can you point which tooth the pain is coming from?

(A) Yes I can.

(B) No I can’t tell exactly which tooth it is. I can only tell the area. It may be coming from more than one tooth.



Any pain when bite or chew?

(A) No

(B) Yes. It only hurts when I eat something hard.

(C) Yes. I can’t chew on the side that it is sore. I avoid that side and I chew on the other side.


Has the pain affected your sleep?

(A) No

(B) and (C)  Yes



Have you taken any Neurafen or Panadol?

(A) No

(B) Yes


All answers A – most likely you have sensitivity. The usual cause is gum recession, which exposes the part of the tooth that is supposed to be covered by the gum. You can try putting sensitive toothpaste on the area (see post of sensitivity on how to use sensitive toothpaste). If that doesn’t work then the dentist will place a thin vale of filling on the exposed area and the filling will act like a blanket for the tooth. It is instantly reduce the pain by at least half.

Most answers B – the dentist will need to take an X-ray to determine if the cause of your pain is sensitivity or from decay. If you have decay, not to worry if you need a filling. It’s a straight forward treatment that takes about half an hour to do. Yes, you will need an injection but it’s 10 seconds of discomfort, followed by about 2 hours of blissful numbness so enjoy the numbness while it lasts.

If you have answered C to any of the questions, the dentist most likely need to take an xray to see if the tooth has an infection and to see how deep the decay is, do a light tap test (gently tap a few teeth to see if you get pain from the tapping pressure) and gently blow some cold air on a few teeth to see which tooth is causing the pain. It would depend on the diagnosis, but you might find yourself being faced with whether or not the dentist can save the tooth.


The quiz is to you a some direction but it is certainly no substitute to going to your dentist.


Author: Dr Rita Trakhtman, cosmetic dentist, East St Kilda



An online healthy lifestyle blog from a dental point of view - Advice on how to live a healthy lifeSMILE :)

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