Dentistry/Pain

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Question
Hello,

I had all 4 wisdom teeth and one lower tooth removed 1.5 years ago.
I'm 37 female and the wisdom teeth were causing me huge discomfort and made my teeth crooked.

Even though it's been 1.5 years, I have pain (sometimes excruciating) pain only on my right side where the extractions were also jaw/joint pain.  It can be unbearable to the point where I think I'm dying. It usually happens when I eat.

I don't have dental insurance anymore and last time I went the dentist (I don't think she likes me) refused to give me an antibiotic or any rx for my concerns. She just gave me an expensive quote for more dental work.

Is it normal to have such extreme pain after so long?

Thank you for your time,

Sandra

Answer
Hi Sandra,

It is common for people who have had wisdom teeth extractions to experience discomfort and pain.  Now, just because it is common or "normal" does not mean you should have to endure pain for an extended length of time.  You will have treatment options.

The later in life you have your wisdom teeth extracted, the more risk there is for complications or jaw pain.

What probably happened is that the removal of your wisdom teeth has upset your bite, and the symmetry within your facial muscles.  The jaw pain you describe, sounds like it could be TMJ.....Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder. You mention pain when eating.  Do you also have pain when talking?  Does your tongue rest comfortably in your mouth, in the same way it did before your wisdom teeth extraction?

As I said, you will have treatment options.  You need to seek out a board certified dentist whose PRIMARY work is the treatment of TMJ.  All dentists will claim they have treated TMJ and can treat you.  But that's not good enough.  You want a dentist that works with TMJ patients on a daily basis.  A TMJ Specialist.

One of the likely things your dentist will do is to make a night guard appliance for your teeth that you will wear when sleeping. This appliance acts as a buffer to prevent teeth grinding and can give your jaw a much needed opportunity to relax and prevent further wear and tear on your jaw joints.

Any dentist can take molds of your teeth, send them off to a lab, and then put a night guard appliance in your mouth. That's no trick.  The hard part is not ordering the lab to produce a night guard.  The part that really takes skill is the fitting and tailoring of that night guard just right, so that it feels comfortable for you.  Even for the best dentists this is hard to do, so that's why I emphasis finding someone that does a lot of this kind of work.  It is very rare that this could be accomplished in one office visit.  It could take several visits of making adjustments to get it just right.  If it does not feel right, don't be afraid to speak up.

Some suggestions.  First, do your research in finding the right dentist for the job.  Believe it or not, TMJ is very common.  Ask your friends, and other people you know if they have gone to a TMJ specialist. Get recommendations. Try getting in the habit of sleeping on your back.  The correct sleeping posture can do wonders for the pain you are experiencing.  There is also a book I bought last year that I thought was great...."The TMJ Healing Plan" by Cynthia Peterson.  There is an electronic version of it that you can read on your Kindle or iPad.  I ordered mine through Amazon.

Oh, and one more thing....I paid $900 for my night guard.  That included the appliance, office visit and follow-up visits, etc.

Sandra....good luck and please check back with me and let me know how you did.

Best Regards,
Jonathan
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Dentistry

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Jonathan at PatientBabble

Expertise

My area of expertise from the patients point of view would be Dentistry/TMJ plus the speech challenges that these jaw and bite problems sometimes represent. Over the years I have seen a multitude of dentists, orthodontists, oral surgeons, speech therapists, neurologists and other health professionals who all had an opinion about my TMJ/bite problem. I AM NOT A DOCTOR...but would purely be a patients point of view type person. I "get it" when people say they tried to explain to their dentist what their TMJ/bite problem is and that they are misunderstood. I can listen to people's trials and tribulations and there is a good chance I have been down that road before. I can make suggestions as to what people can do at home, or what questions to ask their doctor or dentist when they visit. I will try and recall information or experiences that may be helpful to you.

Experience

About 25 years ago, I had my wisdom teeth out and since then my bite has never felt "normal." For whatever reason, the first sensation I remember was not that my bite was off.....but rather that my normal tongue and speech patterns had been impeded. I spent years going to different dentists, who lumped me into their generic version of what they knew about TMJ. The majority of dentists believe they can treat TMJ, but only those whose primary focus is TMJ treatment, are really any good at it. Any dentist, can take an impression of your teeth, send that impression off to the lab and have them make a night guard. That is the easy part. The tricky part is what the dentist does with the night guard, once receiving it from the lab. The dentist has to do a "fitting" where they tailor the night guard to be evenly balanced and comfortable in your mouth. Sometimes it can take a few visits, because further adjustments need to be made to the night guard appliance, to get it just right. I have found that dentists, who have had the most practice, do a better job at fitting your appliance. It's almost like an art form.

Organizations
Jonathan's Blog is: https://patientbabble.squarespace.com/jonathans-blog

Education/Credentials
College Graduate with Bachelor of Arts Degree

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