Many Don’t Realize Their Pain Is Abnormal

November 20, 2020 Kelley Brummett DMD

When working with participants at The Pankey Institute, I help them analyze dental cases to assess the risk for joint and muscle problems. I often hear, “The patient is not reporting any pain.” Yet, the dental records indicate the patient is at high risk of experiencing pain.

I have discovered a question to ask my patients that reveals their personal pain tolerance. “When you have a headache or muscle pain, at what level of pain do you take an Advil?” Some patients say at level 1 or 2. Others say not until it is a 12. Patients are all up and down the scale.

This one question leads to the patient’s self-discovery about how they perceive pain and potentially tolerate abnormal pain when they are “diseased.” Further conversation helps the patient understand symptoms they have been dismissing indicate abnormalities that can be “treated” for a healthier, longer-lasting dentition and more comfortable life.

And this brings me back to how we diagnose and plan treatment in general. Sometimes the questions we ask our dental patients aren’t structured to get us the information we are hoping for. If we gather inaccurate impressions from their responses to our questions, we go down the wrong path clinically. Asking more powerful, well-crafted questions allows us to better know the patient and get more complete information to better understand their situation.

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About Author

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

2 thoughts on “Many Don’t Realize Their Pain Is Abnormal

    1. Dr. Brummett, this is a great post! We are working with a set of patient surveys that shed light on each patient’s unique pain experience, and anyone interested in this topic should join our study club! The surveys are easy to use, and our leaders are experts in pain science and research.

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