Why there was a phantom pain in the tooth?

Phantom pain is a common phenomenon. Many people suffering from this condition, and even experienced dentists do not recognize in this symptom something more than the “usual” dental disease. Such pain cannot be treated with painkillers.


Phantom pain in tooth recently began to study as an independent medical problem. Prior to this, it was believed that any pain has an explicable physical cause – inflammation or infection that has spread to the roots of a healthy tooth, degenerative changes in periodontium after tooth extraction, etc.

phantom pain of wisdom tooth photo

But new studies have demonstrated the inconsistency of such theory, and confirmed that the phantom pain syndrome develops for the following reasons:

Germination of nerve fibers. In this case, the doctor is most often treated with a complaint about phantom pain after tooth extraction. Data of objective examination do not reveal any pathological changes in the hole and periodontal tissues. X-ray examination of neighboring teeth also does not determine the causes.

Studies conducted in the USA under the guidance of Professor E. Murphy showed that after the extraction of the tooth (especially if operation was complicated), the nerve fibers begin to germinate in tissues in which it could not be presented physiologically and anatomically. In this case, the gum in place of the removed tooth becomes sensitive to any kind of irritants. Even brushing your teeth or chewing soft food can trigger syndrome affecting neighboring teeth.

Most often phantom pain of this type is arose people with a weakened immune system or with autoimmune diseases that do not allow the body to “adequately” respond to tooth extraction.

Psychogenic toothache. Syndrome of this type is often arose people who have suffered acute mental trauma or who are in a state of acute or chronic stress. In this category of patients there is a sharp increase in the level of sensitivity, when subjective discomfort can arise under the influence of completely harmless factors.

Also often psychogenic dental pain is observed patients who have suffered it for a long time and, refusing treatment, fought this symptom with painkillers. In this case, the mechanism of “habitual pain” that has long worried a person is launched, and even after the treatment it returns as an obsession.

Reflected pain. This is not phantom pain, since complaints about this symptom can be attributed to the objective. But it develops as an “addition” to the headache, pain in the ears or eyes or other structures that have common neural lines with the dentoalveolar system. In this case, the pain signal propagates along the common nerve fibers from the pathological zone to the teeth.

Other symptoms

Phantom pain of tooth root canal photoPhantom pain of tooth root canal is difficult to determine. On the basis of only complaints of the patient it is impossible to draw a conclusion about the origin of the pain syndrome. A comprehensive examination is needed, the purpose of which is to exclude all the pathological causes of this symptom, and only after that can diagnose “atypical odontalgia” or “neuropathic toothache.”

But some signs may indicate this kind of pain even before a doctor visits:

  1. The pain does not disappear and does not become weaker after taking even the most powerful painkillers.
  2. If the patient takes medications with a sedative effect, he can note that after their intake the pain is weakening.
  3. Appearance or aggravation of pain is associated with excessive psychoemotional loads.
  4. Pain in place of the removed tooth appears simultaneously with headache or earache.

These signs are not enough to determine phantom pain, but they are useful for the correct choice of further diagnosis.


phantom pain after tooth extraction photoOne of the erroneous misconceptions is phantom pain of wisdom tooth, which “exists only in the head,” does not require treatment. This is fundamentally wrong: the patient himself is experiencing quite real pain, and delay with treatment can cause severe neurological disorders, chronic insomnia, the development of diseases of the cardiovascular system.

Depending on the reasons (depulpation, sealing or other manipulation), the choice of therapeutic tactics can vary greatly:

  • Treatment of the underlying disease, which leads to reflected pain in the area of the teeth.
  • Neurosurgical methods, in which the branch of the nerve that transmits the pain signal to the teeth is cut off.
  • Treatment with sedatives, sedatives, antidepressant drugs.
  • Psychotherapy aimed at increasing the patient’s stress resistance and developing his abilities to manage his own emotions.

Since the phantom pain syndrome involves the central nervous system, the diagnosis is performed by the dentist (it excludes possible dental reasons for this condition), and the treatment can be carried out by a neurologist, clinical psychologist, neurosurgeon and other specialists of a narrow profile.

Home treatment

Unfortunately, there are no universal drugs that could help anyone suffering from phantom pain.

Specialists recommend focusing on the correction of lifestyle and psychological hygiene – normalize sleep and rest, reduce stress, minimize contact with people provoking excessive stress on the psyche, etc.

Also you can take non-prescription sedatives (Corvalol, Valerian extract, Leonurus’s tincture, etc.), which have a mild effect.

Preliminary consult with a doctor – he recommend the most suitable means for you.

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