I have pain on a back tooth. It’s been bothering me quite a bit lately. I know I grind my teeth at night. I was talking to a co-worker about that and she said I probably have TMJ from that. Should I see a TMJ dentist or my regular dentist?
There are a few things going on here. I will say right away that you likely have a cavity in your molar because the pain is localized and not general. The pain getting worse could mean that it’s turning into an infection. This would be considered an emergency appointment, so I’d contact your dentist to get in as soon as possible.
You should be aware that because TMJ isn’t a recognized specialty, a TMJ dentist is a general dentist. To make matters more confusing, not every general dentist is qualified to diagnose and treat TMJ Disorder. If you were to need a “TMJ Dentist”, you want one who has invested a significant amount of time in post-doctoral training.
For instance, Dr. Doan completed the coursework at the renowned Dawson Academy and also received a mentorship from Dr. Mark Piper of the Piper Education and Research Center, the world’s leading expert in treating TMJ.
TMJ and Teeth Grinding
I’m more than a little concerned that your dentist didn’t address your teeth grinding. This can lead to serious problems, such as TMJ (as your co-worker mentioned). However, it can also loosen your teeth and even crack or break them.
Your dentist should have recommended you get a custom-fitted night guard so there would be a protective layer to keep your teeth from becoming damaged. Because it’s custom made for your bite, it’s perfectly comfortable.
Teeth grinding is a habit that mostly takes place when patients are asleep and don’t even realize they’re doing it. That’s why it’s important for your dentist to keep an eye on things and let you know if he sees any evidence of a problem. Your dentist seems to have neglected that.
If you break a tooth, you’re talking about needing a dental crown. Even worse, is if you lose a tooth because the grinding causes it to come loose. Then, you’re talking about an expensive tooth replacement, such as dental implants.
All that being said, your first priority is getting that molar looked at right away. Your dentist should have room in his schedule for emergency appointments.
This blog is brought to you by La Jolla Dentist Dr. Stephen Doan.