Do You Really Have a Toothache?

You wake up one morning, brush your teeth and then while drinking that first cup of coffee, you notice one of your teeth hurt. Or maybe it’s a couple of teeth, you really can’t tell. Toothache symptoms can be caused by a wide range of problems which don’t always originate from a tooth.

  • A human face has four major sinus cavities. The maxillary sinuses are approximately an inch across and are found on top of each cheekbone. When a virus, bacteria or certain allergens irritate and infect the maxillary cavity the accompanying pressure can mimic a toothache.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia is caused when the trigeminal nerve becomes inflamed. This nerve is responsible for sensation in the face and the biting and chewing motor functions. When you have trigeminal neuralgia, often something as simple as brushing your teeth can cause debilitating pain. Because of the complexity of determining a true diagnosis, frequently people end up going through many medical and dental procedures before being correctly diagnosed.
  • Occasionally an ear infection, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) symptoms or tight facial muscles can lead you to believe you have a toothache. Then there are those times when even after a visit to your dentist you still have unexplained tooth pain. One of the most common causes is a cracked tooth. Something as small as even a microscopic crack may cause excruciating pain.
  • There is an entire realm of other medical health concerns which may cause tooth pain. Generally with the majority of these more serious conditions there are always other symptoms to take into consideration.

Dr. Ellis is a firm believer that all tooth pain needs to be investigated. Please contact the office at 314.965.1334 and speak with Nicole, our scheduling coordinator.

What is TMD?

Commonly, though incorrectly, referred to as TMJ, temporomandibular disorder or TMD, is a medical problem surrounding the jaw, jaw joint and connecting muscles. TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull temporal bone; or in other words, the joint which allows your jaw to open and close.  Medical researchers don’t know exactly all the causes of TMD but have determined the symptoms begin with both the jaw muscles and the joint itself. Other possible causes are:

  • Whiplash or a heavy blow to the head.
  • Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the joint itself.
  • If the soft tissue between the joint ball and socket becomes dislocated, pain can occur and jaw motion limited.
  • Stress can often cause a person to clench their teeth or tighten those sensitive facial and jaw muscles.
  • Grinding or clenching the teeth during sleep.

TMD is generally seen in more women than men with the onset beginning as early as the late teens. Pain can be swift and severe or a dull ache that last for years. Additional symptoms include:

  • Inability to open the mouth very wide.
  • Facial and jaw pain which can radiate down the neck to the shoulders. Or pain in and around the ear especially when chewing or speaking.
  • Jaws that get locked or stuck.
  • Facial swelling and/or a tired feeling in the face.
  • Noises such as clicking or popping when moving the mouth or chewing.
  • Difficulty chewing or feeling as though the upper and lower teeth are no longer aligned.

Proper diagnosis by your dentist is the first step in determining a treatment plan for TMD. Dr. Ellis has extensive hands-on training with the Dawson Academy  to be able to deliver custom treatment to patients to treat their TMD.  If you or any of your family members are experiencing some or all of the above listed symptoms, please contact Ellis Dental today to schedule an appointment.