Phantom and Persistent Tooth Pain

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What is it?

Phantom tooth pain (Atypical Odontalgia) is a pain in a tooth or where a tooth once was even after treatment for the diseased tooth.

Signs or Symptoms

People can experience all sorts of symptoms from a tooth that a  dentist has told them is perfectly fine.

Teeth affected may have

  • Increased sensitivity to thermal stimuli
  • Increased biting pain
  • Constant or intermittent dull ache.


The cause can be from a problem to the nerve supplying the tooth (neuropathic pain) or referred pain from a surrounding structure (referred odontalgia). Muscles for example can often cause persistent tooth ache in the absence of any dental disease.


A thorough pain history and clinical examination and well as volumetric imaging such as a CBCT or CT is often required to establish a diagnosis.


Treatment is aimed at the cause, if the cause is a nerve then neuropathic pain modulating medication/ nerve calming medication is required. If the investigations reveal the pain to be muscular in origin then patients will often benefit from conservative therapy to the muscle .


Once the true source is identified recovery is straightforward. Patients may need to actively prevent the pain from reoccurring by following the prescribed treatment plan.

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