Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chronic Pain Patients Have an Increased Risk of Dental Problems

During my pregnancy with my youngest son, I happened to notice that one of my molars was splitting down the middle. I didn't think much of it at the time when I was pregnant until after I delivered my son. I started getting unexplained headaches and I thought I was having problems with my blood pressure. Turns out that I was clenching my teeth and that it was causing my headaches. I went to the dentist to have my teeth looked at and he confirmed that the crack in my tooth was from clenching my teeth at night. He fixed my teeth temporarily and that I would eventually have to have some major dental work done on my teeth.

Potential Dental Problems

After a little bit of research, I discovered that it is common for chronic pain patients to have dental problems including cracked or broken teeth, TMJ, and even premature tooth decay. So if you have any of these issues, you need to see a dentist immediately to try to prevent problems before they start. They make an appliance that you can wear at night to help prevent you from grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. 

I personally tried to the over the counter mouth guards and they didn't work very well for me. I found myself biting down on it and it would make my jaw hurt more or I would find it in the bed the next morning. The mouth guard from the dentist is supposed to stay in place better because they are made to fit your teeth better.

TMJ Symptoms

It isn't fully understood why chronic pain patients are at risk for TMJ. They think that it has something to do with the tightening of your muscles in your entire body. Some of the symptoms of TMJ include:
  • Jaw pain especially in the joint
  • Popping or clicking sound when you open your jaw
  • Ear pain
  • Ringing or popping ears
  • Headaches
  • Tight or sore muscles in the jaw or neck
  • Blurry vision
  • Should pain
  • Lock jaw
  • Dislocated jaw

Dental Cavities

If you are taking several prescriptions, it is possible that you have an increased risk of getting dental cavities easier especially if you are a mouth breather. The reason that you are at risk for getting cavities some of your medications dry out your mouth. The saliva in your mouth is designed to protect your teeth and help flush the bacteria and fungus from your mouth. When your mouth is dry, it allows the bacteria/fungus to multiply in your mouth you are at risk to get dental cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.

It is important that you see your dentist on a regular basis to monitor your teeth for potential damage and cavities. If you don't take care of your teeth, you are at risk for needing dental implants or dentures at an early age.