I have been plagued by TMJ pain for a few years now. It was manageable and seemed like it was improving. Occasionally, the symptoms are a bit of a headache and sore jaw first thing in the morning. Then, as the day goes on, I don’t notice it anymore. I am supposed to be getting a night guard from a TMJ dentist. But I have had other tooth issues that needed to be taken care of first. For example, last month I got a new crown. From the onset, it just didn’t feel right. I went back into the dentist that did it originally to have it adjusted. But it sill hits my other teeth first. The dentist said he checked the bite and it has been adjusted properly. He basically told me that I’d get used to it. But now my TMJ pain and TMJ headaches are worsening. Is it possible the new crown is connected to this worsening TMJ pain?
-Blake in Kansas
The study of how the teeth come together is called occlusion. Some dentists excel in occlusion and others, well they get by. The jaw and the precise positioning of each tooth, especially after having a porcelain crown or any kind of porcelain onlay done, can be tricky. And if the teeth don’t come together perfectly, it can cause an entire host of problems, including TMJ pain. Or if you already have TMJ disorder, it can irritate and heighten those issues.
Not all dentists fully understand TMJ disorder or occlusion for that matter. Some dentists will just keep adjusting the crown, until you stop complaining. In some cases, dentists that fall into this category, may end up shortening the crown so much that it doesn’t even connect with the opposing tooth.
It sounds like your TMJ problems are getting worse. You need to see a TMJ specialist to have that night guard made. Until you start treating the issue with your TMJ joint, you will suffer from the pain. And you are correct that an ill-fitting crown can worsen your TMJ. So, the crown also needs to be corrected too. Don’t settle for just getting used to it. You may end up adjusting your bite and moving your mouth differently to tolerate it. But, it will cause further, unneeded stress on other teeth or joints. Don’t give up on the dentist that placed the crown to remedy the problem. That said, you shouldn’t settle. If the dentist sincerely believes that it cannot be adjusted any further, it sounds like it’s time to see a new dentist. Try searching for a TMJ dentist. Someone with the expertise and understanding of TMJ will understand occlusion and how to better approach your ailments and improve your pain. They will also be able to fit you for a night guard.
This post is sponsored by Barrington cosmetic dentist James T. Gavrilos, DDS.