Is tooth pain caused from grinding my teeth or something else?

I’m a teeth grinder at night. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember, but up until now everything has been fine with my teeth (at my check-up and cleaning several months ago there were no issues).  But something has changed in the last month or so and I am noticing a dull pain (almost like a pulling sensation) in my lower back teeth. It doesn’t last for long periods of time, but it comes and goes on both sides. I thought maybe it could be a cavity, but I’ve never had one before so don’t know what kind of pain is associated with them. I am also concerned that it could it be related to grinding and clenching my teeth? What should I do?  — Marissa

Marissa,
If you grind your teeth, everything is not fine. It’s hard to say what exactly is causing this pain you are experiencing without seeing x-rays or examining your mouth. What is concerning is it sounds like your recent check-up and examination with your dentist may not have been very thorough. Unfortunately, there are many dentists who are just looking for the obvious issues like cavities, fillings, etc. There are other important things they should be looking for during this examination such as TMJ symptoms or periodontal disease.

As for the pain you are experiencing, it does not seem consistent with a cavity. It could be from gum disease or a result of your teeth grinding. But to be sure, you need to get a proper diagnosis. If it’s grinding, you could get a night guard. If it’s something more serious, you need to start treatment right away.  A second opinion from someone other than your regular dentist might be in order.

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