Frequently Asked Questions

Have an oral health question? Ask Dr. Sheila Strock, DMD, MPH, Delta Dental of Illinois' vice president, dental services and science officer. Dr. Strock is full of helpful hints and the oral health wisdom you need for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

I had a root canal on the upper left side of my mouth. Why might I be experiencing pain on the bottom right side of my mouth?

It sounds like you may be experiencing referred pain, or pain felt in a part of the body other than its actual source. For example, if you experience pain in a bottom tooth, the pain may actually stem from an upper tooth and vice-versa. This is due to the nerve endings in your mouth and how blood is supplied to your body. If you are worried about an infection or your tooth sensitivity is frequent, interferes with your ability to eat or lowers the quality of your daily life, discuss possible treatments with your dentist. Your dentist can best answer all of your questions as he or she is most familiar with your oral health history.

My 5 year old son grinds his teeth, not only during sleep but also during the day. Is this something I should be concerned about?

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common habit in children, especially those under age 11. It is typically considered to be normal behavior, but if it causes severe tooth wear, pain or trouble sleeping it’s best to schedule a visit to your child’s dentist. The cause for teeth grinding in children is not completely understood and because children generally outgrow this condition, treatment is not always recommended unless a child experiences excessive tooth wear. Your child’s dentist is the best person to determine if treatment is needed. He or she may recommend a night guard to protect teeth as your child sleeps or they may refer you to a specialist. Consider scheduling an appointment with your child’s dentist for next steps.

If I leave my cracked tooth untreated, what might happen?

Neglecting your cracked tooth now can lead to more pain. If you don’t seek dental treatment for a cracked tooth to see the extent of the crack, you risk the crack exposing the nerve underneath and the eventual need for a root canal or even worse the loss of that tooth. Please schedule a visit to your dentist immediately.