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Question
Hi. I am thirty years old and have a lot of dental problems. To complicate matters further I have a bad case of TMJ, which makes keeping my mouth open for a long period of time causes me excruciating pain, and sometimes even causes my jaw to lock on me! I have lost four teeth already, and I am terrified that I am going to lose more. I was devastated over the loss of my teeth, and am still very depressed over it (it makes me self-conscious, ugly and unloveable). I lost two teeth (bottom row) on each side, and I am so afraid that the five other teeth will go next (like a domino effect!). The teeth that are next to the ones that broke/came out don't feel steady to me, and I'm afraid to eat for fear of breaking them! I currently don't have a dentist (I had a disagreement with my former dentist, and he dropped me during the holidays via a letter that came in the mail!). I thought that was extremely unprofessional, not to mention downright mean! How am I supposed to find a dentist over the holidays? No one wants me because basically I am a high maintenance patient, and am on a disability pension so I can not afford things like crowns and veneers or implants. And even if I could, I don't think I could handle getting implants. Way too painful for me! The disagreement was he kept pressuring me to go and have the teeth that broke/fell out removed because he says they are going to get infected. But I am too afraid to go! I had a REALLY bad experience once in O.R. and even though it happened a while ago, I still have nightmares about it. I am a very anxious person and I feel panicky just thinking about it. I don't handle pain well, and I am afraid that something will go wrong during the surgery. When I met with an oral surgeon he mentioned a lot of risks, including the possibility that another tooth could break, my jaw could be broken, my sinuses could be injured requiring painful surgery etc etc I don't know what to do. I don't want to go for surgery, but everyone keeps pressuring me to so. What do you think? Could it possibly cause my TMJ to worsen? And honestly, how painful will it be? I was told that in the case of two of the teeth the gum has grown over them, so they will have to be dug out! That sounds AWFUL! Also, I am very overweight with diabetes and other health problems, and so I am afraid of being put under (they want to do it under general anesthetic). I would appreciate it if you could give me your opinion of the situation and also any advice/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Also, I realize this question is long already but I have one more quick question if you could please bear with me! I have these very painful sores (I think they are canker sores) on my tongue and cheek, but the most painful one is on the side of my tongue. It is making talking, chewing and even swallowing very painful! I tried applying some baking soda to it, and oh my god! It burned so bad it felt like someone was trying to cut off my tongue! It was terrible pain! And I have not been able to brush on that side of my mouth either (and if I go even a little while without brushing due to my very dry mouth I get cavities!) because toothpaste also makes it burn like fire! It's just painful all the way around, and it refuses to go away! It's been there for weeks now! I was able to get into see a dentist on an emergency, walk in basis (he knew my mom so he agreed to see me, but is retiring soon and no longer has hospital privileges so he can not be my regular dentist even though he is very nice and I would like that)to file down one of the broken teeth that was cutting my tongue. He said that once the root of the problem was gone (sharp tooth cutting into my tongue) it SHOULD go away and feel much better. But it hasn't gone away, and feels about the same if not worse! Any suggestions? What can I do to make it go away, or at least alleviate some of the pain? Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Melanie

Answer
Dear Melanie,

First, let me tell you that you have one of my favorite names.  Melanie.  Great name!

It sounds to me like you are a very intense, very nervous person, who has way more fears and concerns than the average person.  I honestly believe that your problems go well beyond your teeth, gums and mouth.  To me, all of the issues you mention add up to some type of emotional or emotional/physical illness.  Read what you wrote.  You hate that you lost your teeth, but you're afraid that so many things might happen when your teeth are fixed, that you don't do anything until another tooth needs to be lost.  And your intensity and fear can also contribute to the production of your canker sores.

I would first make an appointment with a psychiatrist to talk to him about all your fears.  If he/she is astute, you will be provided with a medication that can help you get past your fears.  

With regard to your teeth, I can't help you until you begin to trust a dentist and get recommendations that I might comment on.  To do that, you need to get over your fears.  Now it's your turn to begin to do the right things for yourself, instead of being tied in your corner of intense fear and shame.  Please let me know immediately after you've spoken to your dentist, and received a plan of action for your teeth.

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Howard Finnk, D.D.S., P.A., CEO

Expertise

I am a Family, Implant and Cosmetic dentist. I will answer questions on any aspect of dentistry and matters relating to the smile, gums, jaws and lower face. Member American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, and Atlantic Coast District Dental Association. I have served as District Council Member of Alpha Omega, as well as serving for one term as its President. I am also a member of The Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, and Mount Sinai Hospital Guild. I have served as a Volunteer for Project Dental Health and The Tri-County Dental Health Council.

Experience

Having attained over 30 years of clinical experience in private practice in Michigan, in 2001 I was re-certified by taking and passing the Florida State Dental Board Examination. After moving to Florida, I spent nearly 10 years re-honing my skills while working as an Associate Dentist for several large dental groups. In September, 2004, I was appointed Adjunct Clinical Professor at Nova University's College of Dental Medicine. I am certified in placement of Mini Dental Implants, and I am Director of The Florida Implant Center (floridaimplantcenter.com). On March 1, 2010, at the age of 62, I began all over again by buying a dental practice near my home in the Fort Lauderdale area. As sole owner and Chief Dental Officer of the new Nob Hill Dental Center (nobhilldentalcenter.com), I can now carefully provide dental care to patients who care, all within a caring, joyful environment. Over my career lifetime, I have provided thousands of diagnoses, fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, periodontal treatments, TMJ therapies, partials, dentures and extractions, and dozens of implants for my patients. The only aspect of dentistry with which I have very little experience is orthodontics.

Organizations
American Dental Association, Florida Dental Association, Broward County Dental Association, Atlantic Coast District Dental Society, Vedder Honors Society, Broward Dental Research Clinic, Alpha Omega Alumni Association, and American Association of Dental Implantologists. Formerly, American Academy of General Dentistry, Michigan Dental Association, Macomb Dental Society, Detroit District Dental Society, Tri-County Dental Health Council (a charitable dental care organization)

Publications
"How To Save Money At The Dentist" Going to press soon.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology from Wayne State University Doctor of Dental Surgery from University of Detroit College of Dentistry Adjunct Clinical Professor, Special Needs Department, Nova Southeastern University College of Dental Medicine, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Awards and Honors
Membership in The Vedder Honors Society

Past/Present Clients
HIPAA rules do not allow me to post this information.

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