Phantom Tooth Pain: A New Look at an Old Dilemma

Joseph J. Marbach, Karen G. Raphael

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this paper is to review the current knowledge of phantom tooth pain, a neuropathic facial pain disorder, thought to result from peripheral nerve injury. Phantom tooth pain is a deafferentation pain disorder of persistent toothache in teeth that have been denervated (usually by root canal treatment) or pain in the area formerly occupied by teeth prior to their extraction. The pain usually extends to the facial structures adjacent to tissues that have undergone deafferentation. The clinical characteristics, differential diagnosis, epidemiology, and treatment of phantom tooth pain are reviewed. Suggestions for further research include the need for controlled treatment trials and modification of current criteria. Conclusions. Phantom tooth pain has much in common with other phantom pain disorders. In the absence of controlled clinical trials specifically directed to phantom tooth pain, treatment should be guided by standards used for other neuropathic pain disorders. Revised diagnostic criteria for phantom tooth pain are proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-77
Number of pages10
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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