Stiff Jaw? Headaches? Pain in jaw muscles? Jaw pain can affect millions of people and if left untreated it can be a real pain. People may grind their teeth during the day and at night and not even know it. The clenching can cause your jaw to stiffen and trigger headaches that become chronic.
Who do you call?
Call the Dentist!
Another source of jaw pain is TMJ disorder. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is when two joints slide out of alignment. Signs of TMY diorder may include: jaw locking or popping, jaw stiffness, achey/sore jaw, neck and face.
How can a dentist help?
Jon Frankel, DDS
Your dentist can help provide relief! Certain exercises may help relax your jaw. You may benefit from a special diet including soft foods. Ice packs may help. Another treatment option includes an oral appliance such as a splint or bit guard.
As people everywhere know, sensitive teeth can make life extremely unpleasant. Sensitive teeth can cause pain and discomfort, making eating or drinking even your favorite foods a painful experience! If you are one of the many who suffer from sensitive teeth, please know that this is condition which can be treated.
Sensitivity can cause tooth pain after drinking cold liquids, eating either hot or cold foods, or even from drawing in cold air. If the pain becomes more than you can comfortably live with, you should immediately schedule a visit to Dr. Frankel, as the nerve of your tooth might be exposed. Sensitive teeth generally start when the gums begin to pull away from the teeth; the gums acting as a protective layer and cover and protect the roots. When the gums begin to recede and pull away, the roots lose this protection, and therefore you will feel greater sensitivity in those areas.
The roots contain small tubules that lead directly to the nerves of the teeth. Whenever pressure, heat, or cold elements travel down exposed tubules, the nerves will trigger a feeling of intense pain. Patients who never complain of sensitivity are the ones whose gums are still firmly in place, performing their intended function.
The best solution is to reduce tooth sensitivity by keeping gums healthy. One way is to reduce the pressure you use when brushing your teeth. When taught to brush their teeth, most people feel that the more force they use, the better. While this will certainly get teeth clean, it can also harm the gums, in turn leading to sensitive teeth. A very effective way of limiting the amount of force applied while brushing is through the use of an electric toothbrush such as the Sonicare Advanced.
So you have sensitive teeth today, there are still ways you can help improve the health of your gums and teeth. Several toothpastes available contain potassium nitrate, a chemical which helps reduce the pain and discomfort associated with sensitivity. There are several toothpastes to choose from, Sensodyne being one brand highly recommended by dentists. Mouthwash containing fluoride can also help tooth sensitivity.
If you start using toothpaste such as Sensodyne and fluoride mouthwash, you’ll notice a big improvement in your teeth and gums. The sensitivity will begin to go away, giving you almost immediate relief. And again, whenever you brush, make sure you brush gently as excessive force will always cause your gums to recede again.
Of course, if you find that using Sensodyne and fluoride mouthwash still doesn’t help, you should check with Dr. Frankel about other options available to you. Dental professionals know how to eliminate your sensitivity once and for all, and how to prevent it from coming back. Tooth sensitivity is something that many of us have to deal with – but now you know there are ways that you can fight back and prevent the pain and discomfort.
When you do something as simple as caring for your natural teeth, you will never have a toothache to shout about. “Toothache” is a vague term actually caused by both tooth and jaw problems. These problems include dental cavities, cracked teeth, exposed roots, gum disease, disease of the jaw, or muscle spasms when chewing. The severity of a toothache can range from mild to constant excruciating pain, and may be aggravated by chewing cold or hot foods or drinking hot or cold liquids. Dental x-rays can help determine the cause and pinpoint whether the toothache is coming from a tooth or jaw problem.
Common Causes of Tooth Pain
Cavities are, of course, the most common cause of toothache. Dental cavities are actual holes in the two outer layers of your tooth (these layers are called the enamel and the dentin.) These layers protect the inner tooth tissue (called the pulp,) where the blood vessels and nerves are found. When you don’t brush and floss as you should, bacteria in the mouth begin to convert simple sugars from food into acid. This acid softens and can actually dissolve your enamel and dentin, creating holes (cavities!) Early shallow cavities do not cause pain, easily going unnoticed. It is the larger, deeper cavity that will become irritated by bacterial toxins where food and debris collect. This is where toothache comes into play.
Foods that are cold, hot, sour or sweet can also cause distress. A simpler dental filling is the normal treatment for small, shallow cavities, while the larger cavity involves an on-lay or even a crown over the entire tooth. For cavities that have penetrated and compromised the pulp, treatment demands either a root canal procedure or, as a last resort, extraction of the affected tooth. Pulp injury can lead to the death of pulp tissue, resulting in tooth infection or dental abscesses. A root canal procedure removes the dying pulp tissue and replaces it with an inert material, saving that dying tooth from extraction.
Gum disease/gingivitis is the second most common cause of toothache. Characterized by swelling of the soft tissue and undesirable loss of the bone surrounding teeth, this condition is caused over time by plaque that accumulates along the gum line. Gum bleeding without pain is an early symptom of this disease. With advanced gum disease, the loss of bone around the teeth leads to the formation of air pockets and can cause the loss of otherwise healthy teeth. Early gum disease treatment involves oral hygiene and removal of the harmful bacterial plaque. In more extreme cases a thorough cleaning of the teeth and teeth roots called root planing is performed. Root planing is the removal of plaque and tartar from exposed teeth roots. Subgingival curettage refers to the removal of a layer of damaged gum tissue. Both of these procedures need to be performed under local anesthesia and along with the use of oral antibiotics to fight the gum infection. Follow-up treatment may include various types of gum surgeries. In advanced gum disease with significant bone destruction and loosening of teeth, teeth splinting or teeth extractions may be necessary, so it is obvious that a little prevention can go along way in stopping these seemingly unnecessary procedures.
More unusually, a toothache may be caused by a problem not originating from either teeth or the jaw. Pain around the teeth and the jaws can be symptoms of diseases of the heart such as angina, ear infections or even a sinus infection. The pain of angina is usually located in the chest or the arm. However, in some patients with angina, toothache or jaw pain is the only symptom of their heart problem. Since infections and diseases of the ears and sinuses can also cause pain around the teeth and jaws, evaluations by both dentists and doctors become necessary to diagnose medical illnesses causing “toothache.”
Prevention Is Key
As you can see, regular checkups with Frankel Dentistry can alert doctors to help detect and prevent many other medial problems too. Keep your regular appointments and don’t waste your precious time on toothache!
-Answers to the Top Three Questions
our Dental Hygiene Team is Asked- Part Two
Jon Frankel Dentistry, Toledo, Ohio
Why are my teeth sensitive?
There are a number of reasons teeth become sensitive.
Dental decay or cavities are actual holes in the hard tooth surface. These openings allow the sensations of hot and cold, air, sweet or acidic or touch to pass directly to the dental nerve. The dental nerve has one response, discomfort or pain. Left untreated, the opening will grow and continued exposure will irritate the nerve and the inner tooth may become infected.
Injury, daily use or simple everyday chewing can cause a tooth to fracture. Fractures can tiny and difficult to spot. A fracture may be another direct entry to the dental nerve and sensitivity.
The inflammation and infection associated with gum disease can be silent and not noticeable or the source of sensitivity, discomfort and pain.
The floor of the sinus is adjacent to the roots of the upper teeth. A sinus infection can cause teeth to be sensitive.
How the teeth touch together or occlude can also be a source of sensitivity. An imbalanced bite may contribute to discomfort of the entire tooth by irritating the nerve.
An imbalanced or misaligned bite and the subsequent pressure on an individual tooth or several teeth can cause recession of the gum tissue and exposure of the more porous root surface. Exposed root surface can be quite sensitive
When the gums have receded and the root surface is exposed, the border between the porcelain-like enamel and ceramic-like root surface is a weak point. This area is susceptible to wear especially if the bite is not corrected and or if scrubbed with a hard bristled toothbrush. A deep groove forms and can also be a source of sensitivity.
Do not just tolerate sensitive teeth. Co-partner with your Dentist to find the cause of your sensitivity. Once the source is discovered there are options to end the discomfort of sensitive teeth.
At least several times a day you can hear Dr. Frankel state, “I like to take care of small issues before they become big problems”. Occasionally dental emergencies come unannounced but often there were tell tale signs. Anytime you sense something is just not quite right, schedule a dental visit. Dental disease can be silent but often the patient senses something is off. Go with your instincts. Check it out.
Regularly scheduled preventative care reduces emergencies dramatically. X-rays can detect decay, bone loss, fractures, infection, erupting or impacted teeth and many other potential issues. Clinical evaluations expose tissue anomalies, bite problems and offer a through evaluations of areas overlooked at home like under the tongue. A few tips from your dental team can prevent a life-time of discomfort and dental disease. It is remarkable the difference made by proper home care!
#3 Manage Your Mouth
Treating decay and gum issues early can ward off emergencies. Small cavities quickly move into the inside workings of the tooth. Once decay reaches the inner soft pulp the infection can grow quickly. The infection can break through the bone surrounding the tooth forming a small pimple on the gum tissue. Dental abscesses can be really painful, just slightly annoying or not noticeable at all. Left untreated they can cause overall health issues. Untreated gum disease can also form abscesses and loss of supporting bone. Treating dental issues early promotes dental and overall health.
Complete necessary dental treatment before business or leisure travel or going away to school. The stresses of travel and study take a toll on the immune system and frequently what was a small issue, flairs up into a big problem.
#5 Accidents Happen
Accidents do happen. There are still a few helpful tips. If a perfectly healthy tooth is knocked out, place it in milk or slightly salty water. If it can be repositioned, place it back into the mouth. Go immediately to a dentist or emergency room. When involved in sports activities wear a Sports Guard. Schedule an appointment to check any injury out. X-rays detect problems and early treatment is always better,
#6 Know your Dentist
Dr. Frankel gives all his patients his personal cell phone number. When an emergency arises, he is available. Your oral and dental health is his first concern.
Don’t let the thought of dental pain keep you from visiting Jon Frankel Dentistry. The skilled staff at this Ohio Dental Office will make sure you are pain free before they proceed with treatment. Serious infection can challenge local anesthesia but Dr. Frankel is skilled at keeping you comfortable.
Dental nerves have some nerve! They are certainly not terribly discriminating. Hot, cold, touch or sweet elicit the same response – pain. Dental pain can be excruciating and remain difficult to pinpoint.
There are several key causes of dental pain.
One of the best known causes of dental discomfort is decay also referred to as cavities. Acids produced by bacteria that grow in colonies on teeth and under gums literally eat away at the hard tooth surface. Sugar in food is metabolized by the bacteria, bathing the teeth in acidic waste. Soft drinks are often acidic in nature and erode the hard tooth surface increasing the vulnerability to decay. Acid reflux or GERD also compromise the tooth from protection in the presence of the bacterial colony or plaque.
Decay can range in appearance from white blotches of decalcification to actual holes in the teeth. The decalcified area may become stained changing the color from patches of chalky white to brown, yellow or orange.
Untreated, the decay reaches the inside of the tooth housing the blood enriched pulp and dental nerves. The once hard tooth surface literally crumbles.
The gum tissue is soft and supports the teeth. It includes a ligament that acts as a barrier between the roots of the teeth and the bone in the jaw. Gum or periodontal (around the teeth) disease may begin with bleeding. Healthy gums do not bleed.
If left untreated bleeding may or may not discontinue as the bone supporting the teeth melts away. This often silent infection compromises the entire immune system.
The way teeth touch together or occlude is associated with clenching, grinding, migraine headaches, and sinus infections, ringing in the ears, recession of the gums, erosion or chipping out of the hard tooth structure at the gum line and can even result in an abscess or infection in the bone at the tip of the tooth root. It brings new meaning to the refrain, “That bites!”
The floor of the sinus may touch the roots of the top teeth. A sinus infection often expresses itself as dental discomfort, tenderness in the face in the area of the cheek bones, under and behind the eyes and in the area of the forehead or in-between the eye brows. Aching teeth may be caused by a sinus infection.
A dental abscess is an infection generally at the tip of the tooth root. The infection may begin inside tooth. It can be caused by decay, gum disease, trauma to the tooth or occur spontaneously from an unknown cause. The confines of the tooth anatomy cause the infection to expand down the tooth to the root tip and into the supporting bone. It can appear as a dark circle in the bone around the tooth in an x-ray. The area is dark as the bone has been displaced with the fluids of infection. The yellowish-white fluids may actually break through the gum tissue.
TMJ or TMD
Popping and locking, TMJ is inflammation and irritation where the ends of the bottom jaw bone meet the skull and the surrounding area. Muscles, nerves and bone may be involved. Skeletal discrepancy when the size and shape of the jaw and the skull don’t match up can be a contributing factor. Complications such as trauma or injury, tooth location, tooth loss, and clenching and grinding are further indications found in Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.
Fractured, cracked tooth
Ranging from thin and almost indistinct to quite obvious fractures can be terribly painful. Unlike a broken bone that can regenerate broken teeth can be difficult to detect and offer a challenge to patients and doctors alike.
Third molars or wisdom teeth generally make themselves known when one is 17 to 21 years old. Wisdom teeth may be fully erupted, partially erupted or impacted. Often difficult to impossible to care for due to lack of space, early extraction generally takes care of a small issue before developing into a large problem. Discomfort may be from teeth erupting, decay or impaction. Partially erupted teeth often make home care impossible and initiate decay in adjacent teeth.
Teeth can cause growing pains. The developing permanent teeth press up against the roots of the primary or baby teeth. This pressure causes the roots of the baby teeth to disappear as the adult dentition erupts.
Strange as it might seem pain in one area might be felt in another. The tooth that hurts may not be the one that is diseased.
Women more often than men may be warned of the onset of a heart attack by discomfort in the lower jaw.
To make it more confusing often even advanced dental disease including severely decayed teeth and infected gums offer no pain.