I am not sure what to do. I’ve never had a cavity so I’m not sure if this is it. The back area of my mouth, where my molars are has periodic sharp pain. I do grind my teeth but have never had pain from it. I mentioned it to a friend and she thought it was TMJ. Do I see a TMJ Dentist first or a general dentist to check on the cavity thing?
First, let me congratulate you on having never had a cavity before. That’s fantastic. Not many adults can say that. There are several possibilities going on here. However, I want to clear up a common misunderstanding before we get into that. There isn’t a TMJ Specialty. That means a TMJ dentist is a general dentist who, hopefully, has invested time in TMJ training. Look at Dr. Hadgis’ TMJ Dentist page to get an idea of what you’re looking for.
TMJ or Other Dental Concern?
I’m concerned that your dentist hasn’t addressed your night grinding. In fact, that could be the very cause of your pain. Grinding your teeth can damage your jaw, leading to TMJ. It also wears down your teeth and can lead to cracked or loose teeth. This should have been addressed long ago. A simple nightguard can protect your teeth from the grinding.
It’s possible your molars have suffered some damage and that’s why you’re in pain. It’s also possible you have a cavity or the beginning of a tooth infection.
Your best option is to see a dentist who also is familiar with TMJ. He’ll do some x-rays to try and diagnose the problem. If it’s a cavity, a simple composite filling is an easy solution. What you don’t want is to continue the grinding without prevention because you’ll end up losing a tooth. Then you’re stuck looking for tooth replacement options.
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