the case of the jumping tooth pain


The day after graduation I went to Luna Park with some friends and upon walking immediately noticed something odd about my teeth. When I walked, at the same moment of impacting the ground (and thus sending a jolt of momentum through my body), a tooth in the upper right side of my mouth twinged like it was loose, with an odd kind of nerve-based pain. Obviously, riding all of Luna Park's various spinning attractions made sure that this new toothache never went unnoticed.

I've had cavities before and the fact that it wasn't cold/hot sensitive or sore when I poked it (only when I walked or jumped) meant it was something a bit different. Since it wasn't gone the next day (Sunday) or even the following day, I called a dentist and made an appointment. I'd been avoiding the dentist for a while because the last time I went, the dentist promised a couple of fillings on the next visit and that was enough to deter me from going back. Oops.

My theory on what it could be? Well, not a cavity. It didn't feel like that, since it wasn't hot or cold sensitive. It felt like when I jumped there was pressure being put on the top that was definitely nerve-oriented. Thoughts of root canals ran through my head - not happy thoughts. I found a couple of sources online that said that sinusitis could cause such jumping tooth pains, where the tooth is otherwise fine except when running. Well, I had just developed a cold on the previous Wednesday which had gotten into my sinuses, so this seemed like a possible answer. This is what I suspected would be the solution.

theory #1: sinusitis exerting pressure on nerves above upper teeth

open wide

I headed off to the dentist, newly chosen based on their rather novel website (it even made a check-up sound vaguely fun) which even included profiles of the dentists. My dentist had two dental degrees! I told him my symptoms but didn't mention my theory because who really trusts what they read on the Internet? Well, I think if you read enough and with a skeptical approach you can often discern the truth in what you read, but I'm not a dentist. The dentist looked around my mouth, poking at various teeth with the standard poking tool, and hmm-ed a bit. I told him it only occurred when I jumped, so if I jumped I could demonstrate. He didn't think I'd be specific enough, but agreed.

So I jumped - but the pain was gone! What the? Seemed like the dentist's poking around did something. I told him that it was gone and that seemed to confirm what he was thinking. His theory? A loose filling, which had cracked off a bit allowing saliva to go under the filling. Thus, when I jumped, the filling put pressure on the saliva which in turn put pressure on the nerves inside the tooth. Not bad, I'd not come across any mention of that. And since the pain was gone, I was more than happy to go with this theory.

theory #2: loose filling in tooth

The dentist offered me either a clean or a replacement filling, and given that the whole urgency behind the situation was my basketball grand final the next day (which involves a lot of running!) I went for the filling. It was pretty painless, thanks to two horridly long needles and some numbing gel. I tested it when it was all done but had no idea on whether it had worked since my mouth was numb. Still, I was convinced all was well - the mystery was solved.

the tooth strikes back

Later that afternoon, soon after the anaesthetic had worn off, I was walking when I noticed that, to my great dismay, the pain was back. Not as intense as before, but definitely not gone. The mystery continues! I called and made a dentist appointment for Friday, but told them I'd cancel if the pain went away again. The next day, similarly, it was faint but definitely not gone. The nerve was still playing up, and I wasn't sure why unless there was still saliva trapped inside, the new filling was loose as well or if something else was causing the problem.

current status: open

It's Wednesday and so the answer to this mystery is still pending. The pain is still there, when walking with a hard step or running, but it's definitely muted compared to how it was before. Was it sinusitis all along, since I'm in the process of recovery? Or is these something more to this case still to be uncovered? Stay tuned…

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License