TMJ Disorder or Dental Abscess?


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Jan 2, 2018
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Hi there,

I've been dealing with agonizing pain for a few weeks now. It comes on gradually and just radiates through the entire left side of my mouth/jaw.

I had a dental appointment where I had some cavities filled on the left side. The dentist needed me to open my mouth suuuuper wide, and I have a very small mouth. While she had my mouth open, my jaw started to cramp up a little bit. I also noticed that the fillings made my teeth sit differently. I've woken up a few times during the night with my jaw clenched. The pain also seems to move into my ear at times. My teeth themselves don't hurt (I think??), but my gums seem to hurt on the left side (top and bottom.)

She did let me know that one of the teeth she filled could need a root canal, but I haven't noticed a lot of pain (besides a little sensitivity here and there) coming from it. Another tooth has a temporary filling while I wait for a crown, and it's a little sensitive as well, but I don't think there's any pain coming from it.

It's just so hard to tell where the pain is actually coming from once it really gets going. The place where my TMJ connects is tender and feels different than the other side. I can tell that the left side of my face swells just a little bit when the pain starts.

I haven't had any fever and my lymph nodes don't feel swollen. That's why I'm thinking the pain has to do with my jaw. But can my jaw really cause this much pain?? It's terrible if I try to bear it. I've been taking ibuprofen every 6-8 hours to keep the pain at bay. Ice packs seem to help, too.

I have a dentist appointment this week, but I just wanted to see if anyone had any tips?
 
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Dec 6, 2017
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If it's an abcess you can usually feel it by touching the root at the front above the gum line. The root is usually tender or feels different from the other teeth when touched. Is the pain worse on waking or later in the day? Try to relax your jaw during the day.
 
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Pain is definitely more prominent in the morning. The dentist gave me a steroid pack to take, and it has seemed to help a little, but there’s still pain. Has somewhat moved into my neck and shoulder now. Sometimes my neck will stiffen and feel like muscles are having a spasm. Today, I notice there is a tooth in the back that is sensitive when pushed on. It hasn’t been giving me any problems. Gums around it aren’t red, there’s no blisters or bumps around it, no real “toothache” ... I have no idea.
 
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You might be bruising the tooth when you sleep. Do you wear a nightguard?

Why are you still waiting for a crown to be fitted? You won't really know exactly where your bite is at until you have the work completed. Is the crown to be fitted next to the tooth that is sore when pushed on? Or is it that the tooth to be crowned?

It does seem that the work you had done has changed your bite. The worst thing to do is for the dentist to start changing the other side. I'd suggest you get them to make you a nightguard to take pressure off when you sleep (if you're waking in pain that means you're grinding at night). Try to relax your jaw in the day. Get a second opinion. It may be that you just need an adjustment or for the crown that's being made to be designed so that it stabilises the left side.

I do sometimes wonder whether dentists have a problem with certain sides of the mouth because they often work from the right side and they will be either left or right handed. Some dentists are just better at doing fillings and making sure the bite is aligned well than others. They certainly used to train them better to do this. Maybe it's just that composite is a lot harder to work with than amalgam but I didn't have any problems myself with amalgam fillings. I'm assuming your fillings are composite. A nasty material for back teeth I think but it's the only one that is used by most dentists these days.
 

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