TMJ, or Scamsville USA?
April 30, 2012 3:10 PM Subscribe
How much would my mention of the phrase 'TMJ' (a jaw disorder) to a dentist affect his decision to attribute my toothache to grinding rather than to tooth decay?
I am worried that I am about to be scammed, due to the fact that (i) my aching tooth (and that tooth alone) has obvious decay, and (ii) that a new dentist was able to attribute my toothache to grinding before actually looking in my mouth.
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (16 answers total)
Last Friday, I developed a toothache. Because I'm in a new city, I went to a new dentist. So far so good.
In taking my history, I mentioned to the new dentist that I once had a problem with TMJ (namely, last summer I was knocked in the jaw hard enough to make me think my jaw had been dislocated. That blow caused my right TMJ to be inflamed and painful-as-hell for about two weeks). Unfortunately, I didn't fill in these latter details, and only mentioned TMJ as a prior condition.
The doctor at the ER I'd went to that summer -- since my aching jaw was in fact crooked and I'd never heard the phrase TMJ in my life -- told me that all of this was due to the grinding of teeth, and that the blow to the jaw merely set off the explosive pain. I was suspicious, but whatever. If that is what it was, though, my TMJ had never presented a problem before, and has not done so since.
Similarly, no dentist before today has ever been particulary concerned about the grinding of my teeth (or lack thereof). However, after this new dentist learned of my transient TMJ, he was able to diagnose the source of my toothache before even examining me. He even told me that he was probably going to be able to do just that.
I hastened to mention my suspicion that the source of my pain might be the very dark, rough spot on the back of the tooth in question, which I thought might be decay, and which is not a spot found on any otherwise off-white teeth.
However, the X-ray taken of the tooth showed nothing particularly zany, and tapping on it was not painful. The dentist then proceeded to say the word "grinding" approximately 30 more times in the next few minutes, getting me to bite down on a blue strip of paper in order to show me all of the terrible blue dye that was deposited on the teeth that touch, as though teeth are not in fact meant to touch. Diagnosis? Apparently I have a severe and hitherto undiagnosed problem with grinding my teeth :|
(He also attempted to attribute this grinding problem to end-of-term woes, despite my protest that I've been finished classes for over two weeks and my stress levels are at dizzying lows.)
My question, then:
I want to find a regular dentist, but am hesistant to go with this one [a multiple-AskMeFi-commenter endorsed one, no less] because of the possibility of ending up in scamsville. Has this sort of thing ever happened to you before -- i.e., a dentist explicit jumping to conclusions and sitcking to them, despite unseen evidence of tooth decay?
Alternatively, may the doctor in fact be correct in apparently jumping the gun? Any time I have ever had this sort of persistent pain previously, it has meant a cavity, and a filling has always solved it (hence my concern with the novel diagnosis), though I'd be more than fine with the fact that tooth decay is not the problem here.