Certain important points are helpful to know for preparing to treat a patient in pain. Whether screening the patient over the phone or in the operatory, the patient should be able to tell us if the ache is: (1) brief or lingering to hot or cold temperature (2) when biting down or when biting on a foodpiece (3) dull or sharp (4) localized or radiating. We would also want to note whether there is swelling present in the gum or jaw. With this preliminary information, a visual exam and a few simple clinical tests supplemented by X-ray(s) are usually adequate to diagnose the problem.