Tag Archives: night guard

Do I Have Oral Cancer

Lately, every morning when I wake up my jaw and teeth hurt like mad. I can’t see anything wrong with the teeth or gums. Is this a symptom of oral cancer? Cancer runs in my family, not this kind in particular but a variety of others. I’m trying not to panic. Would this be a dental emergency?

Macy

Dear Macy,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

Don’t panic. If you see a dentist regularly, they should be doing checks for oral cancer. I wouldn’t consider this a dental emergency necessarily and I would be surprised if it was any type of oral cancer. In fact, I think you are dealing with bruxism. You need to bear in mind that I haven’t seen you and am going purely on the symptoms you mentioned above.

Pain in the jaw and teeth is often caused because we grind or clench our teeth in our sleep without realizing it. Your dentist would normally notice signs of this because it wears down the surfaces of your teeth. This could be a fairly new habit for you which would explain why your dentist hadn’t mentioned it yet. Maybe there is new stress in your life which can be causing it.

Bruxism Can Lead to a Dental Emergency

When you are grinding or clenching your teeth it damages them. This can lead to you cracking a tooth or causing it to come loose. Putting off treatment for this can even lead to an extreme procedure known as a full-mouth reconstruction where all your teeth have to be crowned to fix the bite.

Truthfully, it is much easier and affordable to deal with this now. This is especially true because the solution is so easy. Your dentist can fit you with a night guard. This is a simple custom-fitted mouthpiece which you will wear while you sleep. It takes the pressure off of your teeth, protecting them from the damage they would normally incur. Because your dentist fits it to your particular bite, they are very comfortable.

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

Could a crown make TMJ worse?

I’ve been diagnosed with TMJ. My dentist suggested a night guard, which I’ve resisted, mostly because the TMJ only bothers me for a short time in the morning.  I recently got a dental crown.  It’s hitting the tooth above it way before my other teeth do, which is uncomfortable. I’ve mentioned it to my dentist and he said he could grind it down or try to adjust it. But, I’ve also having a much more difficult time with my TMJ. The pain has gotten worse. Could that also be from this crown? Should I let my dentist ground it?

Sylvia M. – New Jersey

Sylvia,

I’d like you to take a step back from this dentist and get a second opinion on your crown. Understanding how bites come together properly takes a significant amount of study and training.

Without the bite properly aligned, it could significantly increase your TMJ symptoms. Just grinding it down won’t help and could hurt the crown.

I’d like you to get a second dentist to look at this crown before moving forward.

Also, it will be important to get that night guard, if you truly do have TMJ. It will protect your teeth from nighttime grinding, that you may not even realize you’re doing.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

If you grind your teeth, your mouth is NOT fine

I had a check up. I told my dentist that I’ve been having some pain in my teeth/gums. It’s kind of a low-value pain (say on a scale from 1-10 being about a 4 0r 5), but it feels like someone is grabbing my tooth and then letting go. He checked me over and even did some x-rays. He said it looks like I grind my teeth, but I have no cavities or anything and my mouth looks fine. What could be the cause of the pain?

Jen H. – Milwaukee

Jen,

Regardless of what your dentist says, if you grind your teeth everything is absolutely not fine. In fact, the grinding issue needs to be addressed. It’s obvious your dentist is just a cavity / filling type of dentist. However, there are some other dental issues that need to be addressed in your case, such as the strong possibility you have gum disease, TMJ, and possibly occlusion issues.  Some of these can be quite serious. Do not allow your dentist to brush this off.

You’ll have to bear in mind that I haven’t actually examined you and can only just make educated guesses from your descriptions. The pain could be from progressive gum disease or from your grinding. If either are left untreated you will lose your teeth. If it’s gum disease, your teeth will come loose and fall out. If it’s from the grinding, you will literally grind your teeth down to nubs. Additionally, this can lead to some serious TMJ issues.

If you treat this conditions early, it will be a lot simpler and a lot less expensive.  For gum disease, your dentist will have you come in for some extra cleanings. He’ll probably prescribe some fluoride to you as well.  He may suggest some other things as well, depending on the severity of your case.

Even if gum disease is what is causing your pain, you need to address the grinding. The simplest solution is to wear a night guard. If there are some other occlusal issues, some additional treatment might be necessary.

I don’t think your dentist is qualified to address your grinding/tmj issues. I strongly recommend you find a dentist with specific TMJ training. Look for someone who was trained with either the LVI, Dawson Academy, or Spear.

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