Almost three years of referred pain


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A little info about myself. I am in my late sixties and have had issues with TMJ. Sometime in the last 2-3 years I started experiencing pain in the left side of mouth. It was infrequent and would come and go. It was never in an exact area. Sometimes in my jaw, other times in my lower molars and then upper molars. I could be walking or sitting and suddenly a crescendo of pain. It might last for a few hours and then things would be fine for days and weeks. My dentist would test my teeth and never find anything wrong. X-Rays would reveal nothing. The pain would disappear for a few months and then return. I would have my teeth cleaned regularly and the hygienist suggested I might be grinding my teeth. After one of the cleanings the pain went away. Then it came back. The dentist even shaped some of my molars slightly hoping that would alleviate the pain. It was suggested I go to a neurologist saying that I might have Trigeminal Neuralgia. I went to a local chiropractor who treated me for TMJ years before and his associate said I had all the symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia and they had a device that many chiropractors were using with success but the treatments were too expensive. I tried to using a mouthguard to prevent grinding. It didn't help the pain.

I went to an oral surgeon who took a parabolic x-ray and he confirmed I was grinding my teeth at night. The pain became so bad that I couldn't sleep on a pillow on that side of my face. I was going out of the country for three weeks and I called my dentist to see me again just to see if there was anything he could give me to make it through the trip. Finally the pain revealed itself after almost three years. This time when he blew air on my one of my rear molars I reacted. All the previous trips to the dentist tapping on my teeth and blowing air on them the nerve never reacted. He sent me to an endodontist and when he went inside the tooth he saw what was causing all the pain. I had a root canal and just had a crown put in when I returned.

I am so upset about this because I can't believe I had to suffer for almost three years. The last 10 months have been absolute hell with pain every day. As I am neither a doctor or dentist or knowledgeable in the the diagnosis of pain I don't understand how no one could figure out that I had internal tooth decay that was causing the nerve inflammation and referred pain. How can't there be any type of imaging device to reveal where the pain was originating. Have other people had similar situations. I am not looking to level blame but this isn't the 1800's when dentistry was in the dark ages.

I just remembered and forgot to put this in the original thread. My lower molars became sensitive to slightly cold water in the last several months and one my symptoms also in the past couple years was when I chewed food on that side of my mouth if felt like there was pain below one of my fillings. In both cased the dentist found nothing wrong.
 
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MattKW

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Pain can be very elusive. I had a patient who'd been to a dentist with pain but found nothing, went to a GP who found nothing and referred him to a neurologist. The neurologist gave him some hefty neuropathic medicine which did nothing, then patient went to ER and had full head scans, blood tests, the works - nothing found. Patient by now has now been suffering immensely for several weeks.Went to a GP that I know who then referred him to me for 2nd dental opinion. The fellow had very good teeth with no previous fillings or extractions. I found an almost imperceptible crack in a perfect lower molar - a hopeless prognosis so I extracted it and all pain gone.
I have only ever seen one similar case in 40 years. And to make it harder for you, the suffering patient, is that the longer the pain continues undiagnosed, the more confusing the signs and symptoms become.
 
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When thinking about it now there were enough symptoms to pinpoint that it was originating in the lower molars. The sensitivity to cold water or drinks in that area and one of the original symptoms which was the feeling that there was a bad filling when I chewed food on that side. Strangely that symptom disappeared the last several months which was replaced by the sensitivity to cold liquids. I used Sensodyne during that time and it didn't help at all. It took the internal decay all those years to worsen for the nerve to finally react on the surface of the tooth for my dentist to find it.
 

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