28 doctors weighed in:

How can you distinguish pain from dental caries and pain from periodontal tissue?

28 doctors weighed in
Dr. David Stall
Dentistry
4 doctors agree

In brief: Type of pain

Pain from dental caries is more localized and tends to be very obvious as to which tooth or area is involved.
Pain from periodontal disease usually occurs as a more diffuse, radiating pain, not localized to one tooth unless the gum problem is very isolated. Also, tooth pain is usually is reative to stimuli such as hot, cold, air, or sweets. Gum pain is not as reactive.

In brief: Type of pain

Pain from dental caries is more localized and tends to be very obvious as to which tooth or area is involved.
Pain from periodontal disease usually occurs as a more diffuse, radiating pain, not localized to one tooth unless the gum problem is very isolated. Also, tooth pain is usually is reative to stimuli such as hot, cold, air, or sweets. Gum pain is not as reactive.
Dr. David Stall
Dr. David Stall
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1 comment
Dr. Phillip Frist
Either way you need to see your dentist unless tou want to start serving them in a container at your
3 doctors agree

In brief: Visit your dentist!!

The dentist can distinguish between dental and periodontal pain by the use of a radiograph and a periodontal probe.
If periodontal issues are evident, this can be diagnosed by the dentist and treated appropriately.

In brief: Visit your dentist!!

The dentist can distinguish between dental and periodontal pain by the use of a radiograph and a periodontal probe.
If periodontal issues are evident, this can be diagnosed by the dentist and treated appropriately.
Dr. Debra Rosenblatt
Dr. Debra Rosenblatt
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Dr. Paul Takemoto
Dentistry - Cosmetic
3 doctors agree

In brief: Peri usually no pain

Periodontal disease for the most part is a painless disease.
It usually goes unnoticed until it is found by a dentist or dental hygienist or until it causes an abscess which will cause pain and swelling. Pain from caries is usually more acute as the bacteria invade the dentinal tubules which contain small nerves or if advanced, attack the main nerve of the tooth causing toothache.

In brief: Peri usually no pain

Periodontal disease for the most part is a painless disease.
It usually goes unnoticed until it is found by a dentist or dental hygienist or until it causes an abscess which will cause pain and swelling. Pain from caries is usually more acute as the bacteria invade the dentinal tubules which contain small nerves or if advanced, attack the main nerve of the tooth causing toothache.
Dr. Paul Takemoto
Dr. Paul Takemoto
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3 doctors agree

In brief: Caries can hurt

Dental caries ( tooth decay) can be painful especially with cold or sweets.
Periodontal disease usually is not painful.

In brief: Caries can hurt

Dental caries ( tooth decay) can be painful especially with cold or sweets.
Periodontal disease usually is not painful.
Dr. Jennifer Holtzman
Dr. Jennifer Holtzman
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Dr. John Thaler
Dentistry - Prosthodontics
2 doctors agree

In brief: Thorough exam

Comprehensive examination including both panoramic and individual x-ray imaging , clinical exam with charting and probings, evaluation of the bite , and diagnostic casts as needed, would be a start.
Depending on the findings, the differentiation may be made. Typically pain from caries would be exacerbated by cold, sweets and often heat. See a Periodontist for evaluation.Good Luck.

In brief: Thorough exam

Comprehensive examination including both panoramic and individual x-ray imaging , clinical exam with charting and probings, evaluation of the bite , and diagnostic casts as needed, would be a start.
Depending on the findings, the differentiation may be made. Typically pain from caries would be exacerbated by cold, sweets and often heat. See a Periodontist for evaluation.Good Luck.
Dr. John Thaler
Dr. John Thaler
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Dr. Kevin Nail
Dentistry
2 doctors agree

In brief: Dental Pain

Typically pain from periodontal tissues is more vague, more of a dull, achy pain that cannot be easily localized.
Odontogenic pain (tooth pain) is usually sharp, more localized type of pain. Although either pain can mimmic the other at times. The best way to distinguish where tooth pain is coming from is to see a dentist for an exam.

In brief: Dental Pain

Typically pain from periodontal tissues is more vague, more of a dull, achy pain that cannot be easily localized.
Odontogenic pain (tooth pain) is usually sharp, more localized type of pain. Although either pain can mimmic the other at times. The best way to distinguish where tooth pain is coming from is to see a dentist for an exam.
Dr. Kevin Nail
Dr. Kevin Nail
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Dr. Paul Grin
Pain Management
2 doctors agree

In brief: Gum or tooth pain?

In many cases it can be difficult to determine the cause of dental or periodontal pain.
It can take some fairly sophisticated know-how and experience to determine the root cause of the dental disease. The only way to diagnose is by examination, tests and x-rays.

In brief: Gum or tooth pain?

In many cases it can be difficult to determine the cause of dental or periodontal pain.
It can take some fairly sophisticated know-how and experience to determine the root cause of the dental disease. The only way to diagnose is by examination, tests and x-rays.
Dr. Paul Grin
Dr. Paul Grin
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Dr. Michael Dolby
Cosmetic Surgery
2 doctors agree

In brief: Pain!

Sometimes this can be difficult, but generally pain from caries (cavities) you will have hot and cold sensitivity along with increased pain.
Pain from periodontal disease tends to be a dull sometimes constant ache.

In brief: Pain!

Sometimes this can be difficult, but generally pain from caries (cavities) you will have hot and cold sensitivity along with increased pain.
Pain from periodontal disease tends to be a dull sometimes constant ache.
Dr. Michael Dolby
Dr. Michael Dolby
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Dr. Dave Burns
Dentistry
2 doctors agree

In brief: Dull vs sharp

Dental caries will not cause pain until the nerve is exposed while periodontal disease is like high blood pressure and does not cause pain.
It does cause bleeding and odors the more advanced periodontaldisease advances.

In brief: Dull vs sharp

Dental caries will not cause pain until the nerve is exposed while periodontal disease is like high blood pressure and does not cause pain.
It does cause bleeding and odors the more advanced periodontaldisease advances.
Dr. Dave Burns
Dr. Dave Burns
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2 comments
Dr. Sandra Eleczko
Both will get worse if not treated. See a dentist.
Dr. Robert Mokbel
Just to make sure : you can and will get pain even if you have a small cavity, the cavity does not have to reach the nerve to fell the pain, pain can vary depending on how close is the cavity to the nerve and on the type of stimulation ( cold, hot, sweet....) if the cavity reaches the nerve it is too late to do anything about it and the pain would intolerable or and you will get an infection .
Dr. Jonathan Engel
Dentistry
2 doctors agree

In brief: See a dentist

Sometimes the individual can not.
You need to have a differential diagnosis of what it might be and see what evidence there is.

In brief: See a dentist

Sometimes the individual can not.
You need to have a differential diagnosis of what it might be and see what evidence there is.
Dr. Jonathan Engel
Dr. Jonathan Engel
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Dr. Louis Gallia
Surgery - Oral & Maxillofacial
1 doctor agrees

In brief: Evaluation

Evaluation by dentist.

In brief: Evaluation

Evaluation by dentist.
Dr. Louis Gallia
Dr. Louis Gallia
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In brief: Differential Dx

Periodontal disease is often painless, so if you are having pain it may be coming from carious lesions and/or gum recession.
In any event, both need to be treated, so see your local dentist for a thorough exam and a proper diagnosis of your problem.

In brief: Differential Dx

Periodontal disease is often painless, so if you are having pain it may be coming from carious lesions and/or gum recession.
In any event, both need to be treated, so see your local dentist for a thorough exam and a proper diagnosis of your problem.
Dr. Theodore Davantzis
Dr. Theodore Davantzis
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Dr. Maryam Chiani
Dentistry

In brief: Dental pain

The source of dental pain can often be confusing.
Only a thorough exam and X-rays by your dentist can determine the cause

In brief: Dental pain

The source of dental pain can often be confusing.
Only a thorough exam and X-rays by your dentist can determine the cause
Dr. Maryam Chiani
Dr. Maryam Chiani
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In brief: Dentist can!

A dentist can do an examination and diagnosis the problem. The pain could be from either or both! It is very difficult to impossible for a lay person to determine .

In brief: Dentist can!

A dentist can do an examination and diagnosis the problem. The pain could be from either or both! It is very difficult to impossible for a lay person to determine .
Dr. I. Jay Freedman
Dr. I. Jay Freedman
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Dr. Joseph Capista
Dentistry - Cosmetic

In brief: It difficult

It is difficult but generally gum pain is dull and tooth pain is sharper

In brief: It difficult

It is difficult but generally gum pain is dull and tooth pain is sharper
Dr. Joseph Capista
Dr. Joseph Capista
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