Oral Pain


There are many degrees of oral pain, ranging from mild discomfort to agonising. Oral pain is usually caused by inflammation, triggered by trauma or an infection.

Signs & Symptoms

Oral pain is a symptom of an underlying cause. It is possible to experience the following together with the oral pain:

  • Swelling of the gums
  • Tooth cavities
  • Loss of function

When to Seek Medical Attention

  • If your pain is due to a wisdom tooth that is fully embedded or partially erupted
  • When your mouth sores do not heal even after 2 weeks
  • If the pain is severe and causing you difficulty in performing your daily activities
  • If they are any symptoms of infection such as:
    • Pain
    • Warmth
    • Discharge


  • Gum and tooth infections. These can be very serious and needs immediate medical attention.
  • Gum disease, caused by a build-up of plaque
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Trauma such as ill-fitting dentures, mouth ulcers, piercings, bites and cuts
  • Irritation due to chemicals or food
  • Medications such as chemotherapy
  • Cold sores, caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. You might be able to feel an itching or tingling sensation prior to the appearance of the sores.
  • Smoking
  • Teeth grinding
  • Oral fungus (See Section “Fungal Infections”)

Lifestyle Modification

Sucking on ice chips might help to bring down swelling and numb mild oral pain, especially for mouth piercings or ulcers.

Try applying a cold compress against your cheek can help for tooth aches and jaw pain.

Visit your dentist twice a year for routine check-ups.

Change your tooth brush every 3-4 months or when the bristles look frayed. This can help you clean your mouth more thoroughly to reduce plaque build-up. If you have sensitive teeth, use toothpaste with ingredients like silica and potassium nitrate, commonly found in toothpaste that are meant for sensitive teeth.

Using a mouthwash can help to reduce plaque and prevent cavities. However, do not use straight after brushing your teeth as the toothpaste and mouthwash can cancel out the benefits of each other. Instead, separate use by at least half an hour.

Try changing your toothpaste or diet to identify any triggers for your oral pain.

If your oral pain is due to grinding your teeth at night, try a night guard or a mouth splint to protect your teeth and relax jaw muscles. Teeth grinding can be made worse by stress, so try some relaxation techniques, or see a therapist if necessary.

Treatment options

Your treatment options depend largely on the cause of the oral pain. If you do not know the reason for the pain, please see your dentist for a check. If necessary, your dentist might perform a procedure and prescribe antibiotics. Delaying going for an evaluation would enable the infection to get worse.

If you have mouth ulcers or swollen gums, an over-the-counter gel with choline salicylate can be used to alleviate pain and bring down swelling. Lignocaine is a local numbing agent that can help with the pain. In the event that you find these ineffective, a stronger formulation containing a steroid, triamcinolone, is available from your pharmacist. If your problems persist though, it might be time to see your dentist.

Cold sores in the mouth can be treated by antiviral prescription medications from your doctor.


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