Her Dentist Isn’t Helping Her

I have a puzzle I’m hoping you can help me with. I had a check-up just a couple of months ago. They said everything was good to go. Yet lately, I’ve been having this weird pain on one of my back teeth. It feels like someone is pulling at the tooth briefly and then letting go. It is sort of hard to describe. I haven’t had a cavity before so I don’t know what they feel like. The only other thing I can think of is my husband says I grind my teeth at night. Could that be it? What do I do? I don’t want to go back to the dentist unnecessarily.

Paula

Dear Paula,

Woman grabbing her jaw from pain.

I know you said your dentist gave you the all-clear, but I am quite concerned you’re not getting the proper care from your dentist. Some “bread and butter” dentists, especially those from discount clinics will check your teeth for cavities, but ignore all the peripheral issues, such as gum disease and teeth grinding. Both of those issues are extremely important to deal with.

Bear in mind I haven’t examined you and am going just on the pain as you described it. It could be either from your grinding (known as bruxism) or from gum disease. Usually, by the time you feel pain from gum disease, there has been some bone loss and that is dangerous for you. It could lead you to losing your teeth.

The grinding should have visible evidence at this point. Not only will it lead to TMJ Disorder, but eventually your teeth will be ground down to nubs requiring a full-mouth reconstruction. This means putting a dental crown on each one of your teeth that are worn down. I can pretty much guarantee your current dentist isn’t qualified to do that procedure. It takes advanced training.

You Need a Second Opinion by a TMJ Dentist

I’d like you to see another dentist. Almost all dentists should know how to recognize and treat gum disease. That won’t be the tricky part. I want you to see a dentist with advanced TMJ training. This isn’t a recognized specialty. Instead, a dentist has to take the initiative and decide it is something he or she wants to treat and get the training to enable them to do it well.

Some of the more reputable post-doctoral centers that do great training in TMJ are The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (often called LVI), The Dawson Center, The Kois Center, and the Spear Institute. Look for someone with training from at least one of these schools.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.