Oral Pain

What is Oral Pain?

Oral Pain is typically defined as a pain in the mouth or the oral area.

In the medical jargon, the term ‘oral pain’ refers to a cluster of clinical problems resulting in pain, associated to one or more of the below:

Teeth, face or jaw

Jaw joint

Cluster headaches or migraines

Muscle spasms in the head, neck and jaw

Anxiety or depression

Characteristics of Oral Pain

It helps to understand the basic characteristics of oral pain in order to identify and cure the condition. Here we list a few of the main amongst them:

Location: Localized, diffused or radiating

Character: Sharp, dull, aching, throbbing, shooting, spasms

Severity: Less or acute

Duration: Transient or long-lasting

Time of pain occurrence: On lying down/walking

Types of Oral Pain

The types of oral pain are generally studied in the context of the location of the pain. Here we present a bird’s eye view of the main causes of oral pain.

  1. Tooth-related

  2. Damaged or chipped tooth

Dental caries

Gum disease

Tooth abscess


Prior tooth problem


Broken/Injured jaw

TMJ disorder

Jaw arthritis

Dental surgery

Sinus infections

Wisdom tooth extraction

Burning mouth (Symptoms)

Spicy food

Mouth ulcers

Dental conditions

Oral candidiasis


Food allergy

Others – Pain can also be caused due to:

Oral Cancer


Lesions or sores

Oral thrush (candida/yeast)

Canker sores .i.e. jaw pain while speaking


Nasal polyps

Trigeminal neuralgia

Botulism food poisoning

Sometimes, pain around the teeth and jaws can also be a symptom of diseases of the heart (including angina, heart attack), ears (internal or external infections) or sinuses (sinusitis).

Oral Pain – Treatment Modalities

The most important stage when devising a treatment plan for oral pain is identifying the cause and location of the pain. Factors that need to be considered at this stage include:


tooth needs general treatment

antibiotics need to be prescribed for infection

tylenol/motrin need to be prescribed for pain

antidepressants/anticonvulsants need to be prescribed for chronic pain

For general jaw-related problems, the treatments prescribed include analgesics, heat or cold treatment, muscle relaxants, occlusal guard and jaw exercises.

For oral pain related to mucosal issues, the medications include topical steroids (ointments, rinses), tetracycline rinses and general mouthwash.

Clinical Studies

A study conducted by the researchers at the University of Florida reveals that the rural residents are nearly twice as likely as their urban counterparts to ignore problems related to oral pain. They take note only when the pain becomes intolerable and calls for immediate medical attention, the study states.