Could my new crown be making my TMJ pain worse?

I’ve been battling with TMJ problems for the past couple of years. Mostly, my jaw is just sore in the morning and it fades away as I go about my day. I know I should be wearing a night guard. My dentist told me I needed one and I still haven’t gotten it. But, here’s the thing – I had a crown done about two weeks ago and it didn’t feel right from the start. I mentioned it to my dentist and he made some adjustments, but I could still feel it hitting the tooth above it first. My dentist said he’d adjusted it as much as he could and that I will get used to it. My TMJ pain is even worse than usual since getting the crown. Could the two be related? — Marcella

Marcella,
Making sure the teeth come together properly requires intricate knowledge of the jaw and anatomy. When there are bite problems, like those caused by an ill-fitting crown, it can certainly exacerbate an existing TMJ issue or even cause one to start.

Unfortunately, a lot of dentists fail to realize this and they don’t take additional training to ensure they’re getting it right. Some will just make repeated adjustments to their work until a patient stops complaining, and others will reduce the restoration down so much that it doesn’t connect with the tooth it bites against at all.

The bottom line is that yes, you need to get your night guard made. Your TMJ problems are going to progress until you get the nighttime grinding under control. However, the crown is probably contributing to the problem right now and it needs to be corrected. It’s not a matter of getting used to it. Although you may become accustomed to biting incorrectly or moving your mouth differently so that it doesn’t bother you so much, it will still put undue stress on your joints. Keep working with your dentist to get it corrected. If you hit a point where it’s not getting resolved and he’s unwilling to help, get a consultation with another dentist who specializes in TMJ issues and understands occlusion.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Is it an emergency when a child knocks out a tooth?

My kids love going to the play area at the mall. At times it can be a little crazy with kids running all over the place, but for the most part, we typically escape with a bump or a bruise here and there. Last week, a little boy had a pretty traumatic injury from what I could see. There was blood coming from his mouth, but I wasn’t exactly sure what happened at first. It turns out the kid knocked his tooth out and all the mom did was stop the bleeding (and the crying) and  let him go back out to play. If that would have been my kid, I would have immediately taken them to the dentist. It seems like an emergency to me so why didn’t she take him right away to get it checked out? Am I overreacting? — Mallory

Mallory,
It’s hard to say what happened. Knocking out a tooth isn’t always a dental emergency – especially when it comes to young children who still have their baby teeth. That’s not to say that he shouldn’t have it checked out in the near future to make sure there’s no other damage to his mouth or to the adult teeth that are yet to come in. It sounds like he recovered fairly quickly so it might not have been as bad as it looked. I’m sure his mom would have done something different if she felt it was warranted.

An older child knocking out an adult tooth is a different story. It would definitely be best to have the tooth implanted immediately if possible. You can save a tooth by placing it in a wet towel, glass of milk or even back in the child’s mouth until he or she can get to the dentist (which should be as soon as possible to achieve the best outcome).

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Why have dental insurance if it doesn’t make implants more affordable?

I’ve recently been exploring my options to replace a couple of missing teeth and I think implants are my best option. I have dental insurance, so I figured they would pay for at least half the cost, which was going to make it much more affordable for me. My dentist just called with the estimate and my insurance is hardly covering anything. What’s the deal? Should I call them and see if I can get more? — Marissa

Marissa,
Unfortunately, that is pretty much the norm for most dental insurance companies. There are some plans that will pay for 50 percent of the cost of the crown, if you meet the deductible and then there are some that won’t cover anything.

Insurance companies typically don’t pay for the best possible treatment. You can try and find a plan that might cover more, but be careful and pay close attention to the fine print because there are often waiting periods or a “missing tooth clause.” This could mean that the new insurance might not pick up treatment right away, or they could refuse to pay for missing teeth altogether.

Have your dentist office submit a pre-authorization to the insurance company. That way, you and the office will know exactly what insurance will pay for each service. If it’s still not enough, talk to your dentist about the possibility of making payments for each part of the procedure or a monthly payment plan. They may also be able to find some programs that will help you finance the total amount. Also, ask your dentist about other treatments (i.e. snap-on dentures) that might fit your budget better.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

My dentist won’t use Zoom… can I buy it and use it on my own?

Over the last year, I have gone through a personal transformation of sorts. I’ve lost nearly 100 pounds and I feel great. Now I’d like to tackle my smile. I’ve always wanted to have a bright, white beautiful smile like the ones I see on those makeover shows. When I went to my dentist to request Zoom whitening, he told me that he uses another product similar to Zoom. He called it Kor? I’m afraid it’s some knock-off of the real thing and it won’t give me the results I want. I don’t know how it compares cost-wise, but I offered to pay for Zoom even if it was more expensive. He wouldn’t go for it. Where can I buy Zoom and just do it myself? — Erika

Erika,
WOW… that certainly is a transformation and one you should be commended for! And it sounds like the teeth whitening will just be icing on the cake after all your hard work.

There are several choices for whitening products and oftentimes it’s personal preference which one a dentist chooses. And that is likely the case with your dentist because Kor and Zoom are very similarly priced. He simply may prefer the results he has seen with Kor and wants to stick with it. The product is known to offer very consistent results on tough-stained teeth, and the company also takes great care in preserving the quality of their product during shipment (i.e. they ship in chilled packaging).

Zoom is recommended only under a dentist’s supervision, so doing it yourself should be out of the question even if you can find someone to sell it to you (assuming it’s really Zoom product). You’re dealing with a high-powered, professional strength whitening product that can do more harm than good to your teeth and gums if they are not used correctly.

Give the Kor brand a try. One thing that might help you in realizing your results better is to have your dentist tell you what shade you started at and what your final shade will be. Sometimes you can’t see the difference immediately, but if you can compare the shades side-by-side, I think you’ll be dazzled by the end result.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.