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Dentistry/Bridge problems


Here is my story:
Last summer I had a bridge placed in the left side lower jaw, one space from the back. The space had never given me any trouble, so a bridge was not really necessary, but I have a very good dental plan, and I thought I should use up my credits for the year. My dentist said the work might be a bit difficult, but he saw no reason not to put a bridge there, so he did.
Immediately after, it started giving me pain, which radiated into the upper jaw. I went back and he said it looked fine, but put me on antibiotics, which did the trick for a while. A month later the pain came back and again I went on the antibiotics. Since then, I have had periods of a few days with no pain, then some pain, which a couple of motrins quickly resolves. Since the new year, however, the pain has been daily. It seems to have gotten more sensitive to hot and cold foods, which triggers the pain, but the strangest thing of all is that every night around 10:30, like clockwork, the pain comes. Not intense, enough for one motrin to resolve. I brush daily and floss several times a week. Do you have any idea what could be happening? Could it be taking this long for my jaw to get used to the bridge or something?
I will be seeing my dentist in a couple weeks for hygeine and a checkup. I am so frustrated I almost feel like asking him to take it out. I feel its partially my fault as I didnt really need it anyway!
Another strange thing is that I had another bridge replaced on the other side just recently. The hygenist discovered the tooth was decaying, and I was told this was a necessity. This newer bridge is just fine!
Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

Hi Bud,

That does seem like a very frustrating story.

Your dentist did the obvious common sense thing.  He see's a space on your left lower jaw and says you need a tooth there.  It's just not normal to have a space or hole where a tooth should be.  Random things could happen without a tooth there.  Your teeth could shift or you could get food stuck in that spot, etc.

While it is common sense to put a bridge on your lower is not common sense to live a life with constant jaw pain.  Since you say that the pain was "immediate" after the bridge was placed there, it is pretty obvious that we know the culprit.

Then shortly thereafter when you started taking antibiotics and Motrin, it probably masked or mitigated the pain for a while until the situation got worse.  You say that every night, the pain comes around 10:30pm like clockwork.  Let me ask you a question....what time do you go to sleep?  Is that pain beginning after you are sleeping or still awake?  Because if you are sleeping, you are probably grinding your teeth which is further aggravating that bridge in your mouth.

Whenever people tell me that some work was done in their mouth, and after a reasonable amount of time there is still pain and discomfort, I suggest retracing the steps back to when they were last comfortable.  Now in your case that would mean removing your bridge and seeing if you notice any pain relief without the bridge there.  Just remove the bridge.  See what happens.  The other thing is you don't want the pain to interfere with the normal use and motion of your jaw.  Everything you do.....eating, talking, sleeping.....all of these activities should be relatively pain free.  I also would not want this to create new issues.   As for your newer bridge on your right side, I would just leave it alone.  You seem happy with it.

Dentists usually have their allotment of cranky patients.  So between cavities, abscessed teeth and a host of other misfortunes, dentists usually take a wait and see conservative approach before reversing any work they have done.  But in your case it seems like you have given this bridge a chance for some time.  You mention that you are going back to see your dentist in a couple of weeks.  You need to speak up and be very clear that this really hurts, and ask your dentist for suggestions beyond just the pain medication.  Again.....if it were me.....I would ask him to remove the bridge, and then see if that helps relieve your discomfort.  Give yourself some time to get used to not having a bridge there.  Then at a later time, you could try the bridge again if you choose to.  Believe it or not, sometimes redoing the same work again is all it takes to be successful on a second try.  Usually there is no rhyme or reason for success on the next go-around.  Maybe the lab did a better job in making the bridge or tried a different material.

Let me know how things turn out!

Best Regards,
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Jonathan at PatientBabble


My area of expertise from the patients point of view would be 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 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 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 come from a family of dentists. My first house growing up was one of those residential/dentist combination homes and I was around the dental practice all the time. My teeth had always been perfect, and in many respects they still are. I have never had a cavity and my teeth are straight. About 25 years ago, I had my wisdom teeth out and since then my bite has never felt "normal." I have learned a lot over the years as I tried to figure out my problem from the Dentists, Speech Pathologists and assorted doctors that I have visited. I will try and recall information or experiences that may be helpful to you.


Twenty-Five years ago after my wisdom teeth were removed, my bite did not feel right and then had trouble speaking. 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. The years of searching for proper treatment has underscored the importance of understanding the relationship between dental and speech methodologies.///// To this end, and to further my research, I recently attended the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention (ASHA) in Atlanta. At ASHA I learned about a specialty within Speech Pathology termed “Orofacial Myology”. In laymen's terms Orofacial Myology Disorder (OMD) deals with the establishment of correct functional activities of the tongue, lips and jaw. OMD is a motor speech disorder that impacts the normal flow of speech, chewing or swallowing.///// If you believe that your struggles with your teeth also present speech, chewing or swallowing challenges, you may want to seek out a licensed Speech Language Pathologist.....preferably one that has training with Orofacial Myology Disorder.

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Abridged Version of a Letter I Sent to a Health Care Professional (3/14/13): "..In my early 20's I had my wisdom teeth out. Almost immediately within a few days, something did not feel right in my mouth. I had trouble speaking. When I raised my tongue to try and touch my palate, I felt mostly just teeth. It is very cumbersome to talk and my bite also became a little bit off. If feels almost as if someone put a fork in my mouth and said "now try and speak." Very difficult. My articulation is fine, so to an observer I sound normal. But it takes a monumental effort, so I hate situations like talking on the phone or when somebody asks me to "tell them a story." ..I spent years going to different dentists, who lumped me into their generic version of what they knew about TMJ. They just automatically gravitate to what they have heard about TMJ and assume I am either stressed, or just imagining it. Years later, I look back at all those dentists and doctors and I am amazed at how little they really knew about my condition. I have seen the best dentists, including my dad who is a Orthodontist in New York, to TMJ Dentists in Atlanta and Florida. No one ever suggested that Speech Pathology may be a direction I should explore. ..And I was frustrated by the fact that several MRI's over the years, showed nothing. How could the MRI’s show nothing, and at the same time, I know something does not feel right? I do wear a night guard to sleep in, but it does not fix the trouble that I have when I try to talk. ..I went with a Speech Pathologist friend of mine to the American Speech Language Hearing (ASHA) Convention last October in Atlanta...There was a Speech Pathologist at ASHA who was saying that sometimes when you have your Wisdom Teeth taken out "late" that it could possibly cause damage to the Trigeminal Nerve and surrounding muscles.” POSTSCRIPT: At ASHA, I discovered OROFACIAL MYOLOGY (OMD) which is a specialty in Speech Pathology that addresses Oral Muscular Issues.

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