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TMJ Specialist or Dentist for Pain in the Back of My Mouth?

I’ve never had a cavity. My teeth are pretty healthy, with the exception of my dentist saying I grind them down a little. Lately, I’ve had general pain in the back of my mouth. I don’t know what a cavity feels like, but I have a friend who’s had jaw pain and hers ended up being TMJ. She didn’t know that until she saw a TMJ specialist. Should I see a dentist or TMJ Specialist?

Madison L. – Ohio

Madison,

First, I want to clear up some common confusion.  TMJ does not have a specialty, so TMJ Specialists are just dentists who have done some additional study to learn how to diagnose and treat TMJ. There’s not a required amount of study for dentists to do in order to call themselves a TMJ Dentist.  So, if you do need to get TMJ treatment, make sure you check their qualifications.

That being said, I think you should just start off with an exam with your general dentist. Do you know why he hasn’t addressed your teeth grinding?  That could cause significant problems to your bite. Its’ a simple fix. Usually, you just need to wear a simple mouthguard.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Will Getting Rid of Mercury Fillings Help My Health?

I’ve been having some pretty bad health problems including unexplained high blood pressure. I exercise. I eat right. The doctors can’t figure out what the problem is. I’ve been doing some reading and I read that amalgam fillings have mercury in them, which can contribute to health problems, including blood pressure.  My mouth is loaded with amalgam fillings.  Is it possible this is my problem? If I got them removed would it help me?

LeeAnn S. – Benton, AR

LeeAnn,

I can’t diagnose what is causing your health problems. What I can tell you is a couple of things.  First, the American Dental Association has said that amalgam fillings are safe.

However, there is also some research that says they may not completely as safe as we thought. It certainly can’t hurt your situation.

I will give you a precaution though. Don’t just go see any mercury free dentist to have them removed. Mercury free dentists means they don’t place fillings that contain mercury, but not all of them know how to remove them.

You’ll want to ask if they know how to do a sanitary amalgam removal. That way you won’t be in danger of mercury vapors.  Your safest bet is to go to a holistic dentist. They’ll be aware of the issues with a sanitary removal.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Is It Too Late To Switch From Braces To Invisalign?

I have an appointment get braces, but I’ve been having doubts. My friends with braces hate them and say they wish they’d have gotten Invisalign. Is it too late for me to switch?

Rory G. – Benton, AR

Rory,

It’s not too late. However, you will have to make sure you’re a good candidate for Invisalign. Many people are, but it is something that has to be checked.

If you’re a good candidate, than I’d definitely switch. It’s much more comfortable the traditional braces, because there are no wires and brackets.

It also works faster than braces, so you’ll get to your gorgeous smile sooner.

Some things to be aware of though–

  1. Compliance is essential. You’ll have to leave the aligners in for the prescribed amount of time.
  2. Oral hygiene will become extra important.  Generally, the saliva in your mouth helps your teeth to stay healthy.  With Invisalign, your teeth are covered and won’t be getting the minerals in your saliva.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Is it safe for someone with epilepsy to have orthodontics?

I’ve had epilepsy most of my life. My mom has been too concerned about my epilepsy to allow me to get braces. She worried it would do too much damage if I had a seizure. But, I’m an adult now and really want to fix my teeth. Is it safe for me to get braces?

Evelyn M. – South Dakota

Evelyn,

Yes, you can have braces if you have epilepsy.  There are a few things to be aware of.

First, make sure you tell you dentist what type of epilepsy medication you’re on so there won’t be any complications.

Second, both epilepsy medication and orthodontics can sometimes lead to gum disease. Oral hygiene is a little harder when you have braces. Combine that with your medication, which can also swell your gums and you’re a prime candidate for problems.  It’s essential you have impeccable oral hygiene.

Third, if your dentist tries to give you any removable appliance that could become a problem if you have a seizure. You don’t want anything that can block your airway.

Fourth, there could be some minor soft tissue damage in the event of a seizure.

Depending on your particular case, you could fix your smile without braces. Porcelain veneers can make your teeth appear straight without actually straightening them. They have the added benefit of also changing the shape, size, and color of your teeth. However, it would depend on your particular case.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez

Teeth Grinding is NOT Okay

I’ve been having this weird pain in my teeth, like someone is pulling the tooth and then letting go.  At my last check up my dentist said everything was fine, but he did mention that I grind my teeth. Could that be why my teeth are bothering me?

Tim H. – Orlando, FL

Tim,

I’m a little concerned your dentist said everything is fine. If you’re grinding your teeth everything is not fine. Grinding teeth can lead to TMJ.

It could also be the cause of your pain, but it’s hard to tell without an examination. It could also be caused by gum disease. If that’s not treated you can lose your teeth.

Grinding your teeth can often be solved by wearing a simple dental mouthguard. But, you’ll need to get to that before your grind your teeth completely down.

Because your dentist doesn’t seem to be attentive to these very important details, I’d recommend you get a second opinion.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Is it safe to remove mercury filled fillings?

l have a mouthfull of old silver fillings. That used to be the standard treatment, but I’ve recently learned they’re loaded with mercury. Yikes!  It reminds me of when we used to think lead pipes were a good idea. I want to have them removed, but my dentist says that isn’t safe. Is that true?

Eleanore J. – Pennsylvania

Eleanore,

You’re certainly right about wanting to remove your amalgam (silver) fillings, especially if they’re old. You don’t want them to start leaking.

However, your dentist has a legitimate concern. You don’t want to be exposed to mercury in the removal process.  That doesn’t mean you can’t have them removed. It just means that your dentist doesn’t have the equipment to do a sanitary removal.

You’ll have to go to a different dentist that does have the equipment. Generally, a mercury free dentist or a holistic dentist will have the means of doing a sanitary removal.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

What are my options for a tooth gap?

I’m an adult with gapped teeth and I’m finally in a position to do something about it. What are my options? It’s embarrassed me for years.

Elaina P. – Oklahoma City

Elaina,

I’m glad you’re in a position to fulfill a dream of fixing your teeth. I’m also glad you didn’t give up on your dreams.

You’ve got a few options:

  1. Is to close the gap using orthodontics. Most adults prefer Invisalign for fixing straightening their teeth or closing gaps. They use invisible aligners instead of traditional wire and bracket braces.  You can get your teeth straightened without anyone even knowing you’re wearing orthodontics.
  2. If you just want the gap closed, without doing any other work, then dental bonding is a great, affordable solution. Your dentist will use a composite resin to close in the gap and sculpt it to match your natural teeth.
  3. If there are other issues with your teeth that bother you, then porcelain veneers will be a fantastic solution. They can give you a complete smile makeover. Veneers can change the shape, size, and color of your teeth all at the same time.

Any of those options will work. It’s completely up to you which one you chose, depending on your goals.

This blog is brought to you by Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Dentist says my cavity is too deep for a white filling

I went to get a filling. I request a white filling, because I didn’t want any mercury in my sytem.  He flat out refused saying the cavity was too deep and I’d have to have an amalgam filling. Do I have any alternatives?

Delania  D. – New Jersey

Delania,

Your dentist is being ridiculous. If anything, a deeper cavity would be better off with a composite (white) filling. They strengthen teeth, while amalgam fillings weaken them.

I’m not sure why your dentist is suggesting that.

The only time you couldn’t have a composite filling is if the decay took up so much of the tooth that you needed a dental crown.

My suggestion is you go see a mercury free dentist. They’ll be perfectly fine giving you a white filling.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Fixing Crooked Chipped Teeth

I have some crooked teeth, but three of my teeth are also chipped. I want to straighten my teeth, but am afraid that will make the chips more obvious. Is there a way to fix both?

Leigh W. – Conway, AR

Leigh,

You actually have a few options. I’m going to mention two. One includes orthodontics and one doesn’t.

  1. Porcelain veneers: These can make your teeth appear straight, but they can also change the shape, size, and color of your teeth. It will repair your chips and can even make your teeth as white as you like them. It really is a “smile makeover”.
  2. Braces or invisalign and dental bonding: You can actually get your teeth straightened with  using either traditional braces or invisaliagn. Then, after your teeth are straightened, you can use dental bonding to repair the chips.

I hope this helps you. You can have a great smile. This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Where’d my range of motion go?

Please advise. Lately I haven’t been able to open up my mouth as far as I used to. I don’t know anything I’ve done that could have caused this.

George Z. – Florida

George,

I can’t tell without examining you, but it’s possible you have a TMJ issue going on. That sometimes affects your ability to move or open your jaw.

I’d see someone who has significant TMJ Training. They could not only diagnose the issue, but will have solutions to repair the problem.

There are some other symptoms you may look out for:

    • A deviation of the jaw to one side when opened
    • Pain in the chewing muscles
    • Headaches in the temporal area (sometimes misdiagnosed as migraines)
    • Ear aches
    • Popping in your jaw
    • Headaches, especially in the morning

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.