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Sharp pain in teeth or gum area. Should I be concerned?

May 2014
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Answered by

Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 6502 Questions
Earlier this evening a had a sharp pain in my teeth/gum area on the left side (closer to my chin than my jaw). I felt it on both the top and bottom and it seemed to go down towards my jaw bone and up towards my jaw. It was strong and lasted less than a minute. Sort of came for a few seconds and then faded away.
I get nervous about my health & I wanted to make sure it wasn't serious.
Posted Wed, 30 Oct 2013 in General Health
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail 1 hour later
Brief Answer:
Possibility of ?trigeminal neuralgia.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for writing in to us.

I have read through your query in detail.

Given your description of sudden sharp pain in jaw for less than a minute, I would consider the possibility of Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Trigeminal neuralgia causes a sudden, severe, electric shock-like, or stabbing pain that lasts several seconds. The pain can be felt on the face and around the lips, eyes, nose, scalp, and forehead. Symptoms can be brought on when a person is brushing the teeth, putting on makeup, touching the face, swallowing, or even feeling a slight breeze.

Trigeminal neuralgia is often considered one of the most painful conditions seen in medicine. Usually, the pain is felt on one side of the jaw or cheek, but some people experience pain at different times on both sides. The attacks of pain may be repeated one after the other. They may come and go throughout the day and last for days, weeks, or months at a time. At times, the attacks can disappear for months or years. The disorder is more common in women than in men and rarely affects anyone younger than 50.

If it has happened just once, there is no need to worry. If it happens again or there are other disturbing symptoms, you might have to consult a neurologist.

Hope your query is answered.
Do write back in case of doubts.

Dr. Vivek
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Sharp pain in teeth or gum area. Should I be concerned? 1 hour later
No worry about my heart? I've read jaw pain is related to heart attacks in women
Answered by Dr. Vivek Chail 4 hours later
Brief Answer:
Please find detailed answer below.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for writing in to us with an update.

Heart pain can also be noted in the jaw and teeth. It is more common for heart-related discomfort to affect the lower jaw than the upper jaw. Occasionally, the discomfort will not affect the chest or upper abdomen at all.

The reason for heart pain is an inadequate amount of blood flow reaching an area of the heart. Our nervous system senses this as “pain” or “discomfort” most of the time. Our bodies do not always tell us the cause, or the organ that is the source of the problem. So, we have to look carefully at the things that relieve the discomfort, or increase it. If simple motions of the arm, shoulder, or jaw make things worse, it is probably not due to the heart. If rotating the muscles of your trunk (twisting from side to side) make things worse, it is not likely to be due to a heart problem. If pressing on a trigger point causes exquisite discomfort, it is also not likely a heart problem. If taking a deep breath makes things worse, it is not likely that a heart attack is the problem.

On the other hand, if walking fast aggravates the issue, or causes shortness of breath, I would be concerned. If the discomfort persists even when lying quietly, I would be concerned. And, if you are getting short of breath for any reason I would be concerned. On this latter point, shortness of breath is not the same as sighing. Sighing is more likely due to anxiety.

With respect to the question about tooth or jaw pain, when it is the only symptom, it is more often associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction than heart pain. If making chewing motions or moving your jaw hurts, it is more likely that the discomfort has nothing to do with your heart. Pain in the upper teeth also can indicate other conditions, such as a sinus infection or trigeminal neuralgia. It's important to get evaluated by your doctor or dentist to know the cause of your symptoms.

It cannot be emphasized enough that a heart attack can have symptoms other than chest pain and these symptoms should be checked immediately. If you are at risk by virtue of age, family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking history, etc, it is better to be safe than sorry and have yourself checked by a doctor.

Hope your query is answered.
Do write back in case of doubts.

Dr. Vivek
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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