I’ve never had a cavity before so I don’t know what they feel like. Lately, I’ve been having pain at the back of my mouth with a couple of my molars. It comes and goes. I thought it might be a cavity but I was asking a friend about it and she said that hers was that way because of TMJ problems from grinding her teeth. I know I do that because my dentist said I do. So, how do I know if my problem is a cavity or TMJ?
I will say first I am more than a little concerned your dentist told you that you were grinding your teeth but didn’t explain the importance of it being dealt with or suggest a treatment.
The grinding of your teeth will wear them down to little nubs until you’ll either need them crowned or they will begin to crack. Additionally, it will begin to wear down your the joint that is the center of TMJ Disorder.
He should have suggested you wear a nightguard. This is such a simple fix. He custom fits a special nightguard for you to wear while you sleep. Most people who grind their teeth, do so at night and don’t realize it is happening. Wearing the guard protects your teeth from the grinding motion.
Leaving TMJ Causes Untreated
If you don’t get a nightguard, eventually you will need what is known as a full-mouth reconstruction. This means every tooth will have to be crowned. It is a very expensive procedure and only a handful of dentists have the training necessary to do it right.
Simple prevention now will save you a fortune.
Cavity or TMJ
As to your original question. The only real way to know if you have a cavity is to go in and have it checked. Your dentist will do x-rays as well as a physical examination.
The earlier you catch a cavity the better. A filling is better than a crown. A crown is better than an extraction and tooth replacement.
My recommendation is you go in to see your dentist and eliminate a cavity. From there find a TMJ dentist who will give you the proper solution for your grinding.
This blog is brought to you by East Cobb Dentist Dr. Cristi Cheek.