Atypical Odontalgia: A Review of the Literature

Marcello Melis, DDS, RPharm; Silvia Lobo Lobo, DDS, MS; Caroline Ceneviz, DDS; Khalid Zawawi, BDS; Emad Al-Badawi, BDS, MS; George Maloney, DMD; Noshir Mehta, DMD, MDS, MS


Headache. 2003;43(10) 

In This Article

Signs and Symptoms

Since the diagnosis of AO is essentially clinical, special attention needs to be given to the clinical manifestation of the disease. The most prominent and sometimes the only symptom is pain. It is more commonly described as a continuous and spontaneous dull ache localized in a tooth.[12,20,21,23,25,36,76] The location may change to an edentulous area or entire parts of the maxilla or mandible.[4,20,21,36,76] The pain also can be described as burning, sharp, or throbbing.[4,12,17,20,21,25,36,76] It usually persists for months or years being continuous and persistent, but oscillating in intensity with episodes when the pain is more acute and severe.[5,12,25,76] Sleep is not disturbed by the pain which starts again after awakening.[20,24,25]

Accompanying symptoms that have been reported are headache (migraine or cluster headache),[12,77,78,79] hyperesthesia in the site of the pain,[76] allodynia,[20,25] exacerbation of pain evoked by temperature, palpation, and percussion.[11,17,21,25] No local signs of pathosis are usually present.