Do you experience facial pain in the lower jaw area? Are you having trouble pinpointing the source of the problem? Surely the trouble isn’t with your teeth. After all, you have always enjoyed good dental health. You faithfully brush, floss and use antiseptic mouth wash at least twice daily. But if you are thinking that a medical doctor might have better insight about the problem than a dental hygienist, stop and think again!
It’s important to remember that often there is a clear connection between facial pain and dental health. Sometimes facial pain is related to cavities or other hidden dental issues. It is a mistake to assume facial pain has no connection to one’s teeth, especially if one has the habit of good dental care. This is why it is important to see a dentist regularly. What patients assume are TMD symptoms may, in fact, be odontogenic complications from dental caries or other hygiene issues.
The Source of Confusion
In this day and age of modern medical technology, it’s easy to assume that most medical complaints have a quick and obvious diagnosis. But the oral cavity is unique and can pose several challenges.
Oral pain is often only fleeting. That is to say, many people experience pain that seems spontaneous and unconnected to direct stimulation. Oral pain also varies widely in intensity. Pain can be sharp, and shock-like, but end quickly. Pain may also be dull and uncomfortable, but largely bearable.
In these instances, any number of culprits are to blame. They are not obvious by visible gross inspection. Instead, these problems are microscopic and will require a thorough exam, and possibly x-rays.
Cavities and Other Problems as the True Source of Pain
Dentists refer to cavities as dental caries. Cavities often penetrate deep into tooth matter, or dentin. The decay can lead to inflammation of the surrounding gum. And for many patients, the pain triggers migraine headaches and achiness of the jaw, neck and upper back. If inflamed tissue in the oral cavity becomes infected, generalized symptoms of pain can get even worse, with severe pain developing around or under the eyes.
But cavities alone are not the sole source of the above mentioned symptoms. Other problems may include cracked teeth, dental trauma or a periodontal abscess. These hidden ailments also trigger a wide number of symptoms that can radiate well beyond the oral cavity itself.
What This Means for You
Facial pain is a broad complaint, so a thorough dental exam should be a first consideration. Regular dental visits are also an important part of one’s overall medical care. The American Dental Association recommends two annual check-ups per year. But patients with other medical ailments may require more frequent visits. Only after it has been determined that no dental pathology is present should a patient move forward with other investigations. For more information, contact MedCenter TMJ.
Image Source: www.flickr.com/photos/crazyeddie/316398450