Tag Archives: tooth pain

General Dentist or TMJ Specialist?

I have really good teeth. Never had a cavity or any other problems, though I do grind my teeth. I had a checkup a month ago with an all clear. Yet, this week I keep getting an intermittent pain in my teeth. I can’t tell exactly where it’s from. I don’t know if it’s a cavity or not. My cubicle neighbor said she had a similar problem and it turned out to be TMJ. Should I see a general dentist or a TMJ Specialist?

Norma

Dear Norma,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

I want to clear up a common misunderstanding. There isn’t a recognized specialty in TMJ Disorder. Any dentist who treats TMJ is just a general dentist who (hopefully) has done additional study and training in TMJ treatment.

We’ll get into how to find a qualified TMJ dentist in a moment. First, let’s address your pain. You don’t have localized pain, but generalized. That makes me think it’s not a cavity. However, if it’s referred pain, that could still make a cavity a possibility.

Your checkup wasn’t too long ago, so unless your dentist missed something a cavity wouldn’t generally pop up and suddenly hurt in that short period of time. Here’s what I’m going to recommend. Go back to see your dentist and get some x-rays done. If by chance it is decay, it’s much easier to get a simple filling than to put it off until it blows up into a dental emergency. So don’t be afraid to go to the dentist and get diagnosed. It’s better than waiting until things are dangerous.

Finding a Qualified Dentist to Treat TMJ

If it turns out there’s not decay or any other typical dental issue, then it will be time to see a TMJ Specialist. So how do you know who is qualified without that true specialty degree? You ask about their TMJ training.

It should be post-graduate and be at some place like one of the following:

  • The Spear Institute
  • The Dawson Academy
  • The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies
  • The Kois Center

These are just a few of the advanced training centers, but they’re among the most reputable. If they haven’t done significant post-graduate training, look elsewhere. Additionally, you should know that a good TMJ Dentist will start with the least invasive treatment. They wouldn’t start with a full-mouth reconstruction unless it was a serious and obvious problem where that was the only solution.

Best of luck to you! Hopefully, it’s a simple solution.

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

Pain is severe and my dentist insists nothing is wrong

I have severe pain in an upper tooth, but my dentist insists there isn’t anything wrong. The pain is driving me mad. What do I do if my dentist refuses to listen?

Brooke H. – Minnesota

Brooke,

I can’t tell you what is wrong with your tooth without seeing and examining it, but I would recommend you at the very least get a second opinion. If the pain seems unbearable, and it sounds like it does, and your dentist isn’t listening to you, then you may try an emergency dentist.

They can get you out of pain, while at the same time examining your case to give you a second opinion. I’m assuming your dentist did x-rays?  Generally, you can tell if something is wrong with a tooth that way, but it could be he missed something.

Some dentists can be a little insensitive to the feelings of their patients, so don’t feel bad about seeing another one.

It’s possible it’s not dental related. Your sinus cavities are very close to your upper teeth, so it may be a sinus infection that has referred pain in your tooth.

If you get nowhere with the emergency dentist, a GP or an endodontist would be might next stop.

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.

Fill my own cavity

I think I have a cavity and was wondering if I could just fill it with that store filling material I’ve seen? I don’t like dentists and I rather take care of this myself.

Bruce S.- Staten Island

Bruce,

I can understand the desire to do what you can, but a cavity is not a self treat kind of situation.  Store bought filling is designed to only be used for a couple of days. It will not actually treat your cavity.

If you are in a lot of pain, I suggest you call an emergency dentist. They’ll be able to get you in right away and get you out of pain.  I realize you do not like to go to a dentist. I suspect it is because you’ve had a bad experience in the past.

I think you should ask if the dentist does sedation dentistry. That will help not only put you at ease, but will keep you from experiencing pain.

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