• Dental Phobia Support

    Welcome! This is an online support group for anyone who is has a severe fear of the dentist or dental treatment. Please note that this is NOT a general dental problems or health anxiety forum! You can find a list of them here.

    Register now to access all the features of the forum.

What causes the electric-shock type pain in a tooth? And what can I do?



Dec 20, 2009
I've got a dodgy upper molar with a broken filling that's been occassionally bothersome for a few months (it's being sorted next week).

Today it started to hurt, so I took some Nurofen, which has helped - but I can still feel some very sharp, electric shock type pains in it (a bit like when you chew on tinfoil).

What's caused this suddenly? I've never had dental pain like that before. Is it an abscess? Also, what can I do to settle it down? It's horrible.

Thanks for any advice.
I had that type of pain when I had a cracked tooth. Electric shock is exactly how I'd describe my experience. In my case it only hurt the way you describe when I bit into something hot like a piece of meat or chips. I didn't need a root canal for mine as I had no infection. It all depends on what the dentist finds when the filling is removed and the remaining tooth examined. I was having symptoms for about a month before I had it fixed because I had a holiday booked.

In your case you may not have a crack in the tooth at all though. Might be just the filling playing up as it's been cracked a while, perhaps you bit into something hard recently. You really should not worry about an abscess at this stage. See what the dentist says.

If it's being sorted next week then it's not long to wait so if it were me I'd check with the dentist on the best pain medication or bring the appointment forward.
Thanks Annie,

I have to admit, it doesn't feel much like an abscess, although I always worry about this. Could it be a nerve dying, do you think?
My nerve felt the same and it wasn't dying, but rather very much making its living presence felt. But it's impossible to tell what's happened until your dentist has a look below the filling.

It really depends on the dentist as to the course of action they then take. In my case I went for a second opinion and ended up with a composite filling fixing the problem (the first opinion sent me for an immediate root treatment I didnt need). The second opinion dentist was very cautious and said, "let's have a look and if all seems ok try this first and see if it fixes the problem". In my case it did.

But I didn't have a broken filling, but a vertically cracked tooth which I think is more serious than a cracked filling. So your symptoms are probably similar because you have some exposure of the nerve because the cracked filling has given some access to it (that's what happened in my case), but that does not mean that you need a root treatment any more than I did. You really do have to wait and see what the dentist finds and try your best to control the pain. Try to think positive about this. It's never as bad as your imagination makes it seem.

I think the most important thing for you is to not worry about this tooth. You are having treatment next week and anything necessary will be done then. Make sure your dentist explains everything he/she will do and why they are doing it. This will help you see it objectively. If you do at the end of the day need a root treatment that is not a problem but a solution. Anything that gets rid of the pain is good.

Take care and let us know how you get on.