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When Your Family Doctor Should Call the Dentist

 
Face pain may be a symptom of a dental problem. Call your dentist.

I recently had a patient come to my office for what she thought was a TMJ (jaw joint) problem. She complained that her pain was "mysterious" and would spontaneously occur every day or so. The pain was both intense and debilitating, radiating to the whole right side of her face.

She had been to her family doctor, who suggested that she was having a TMJ problem, but not to go to the dentist for a "high-priced mouth splint." Instead, he suggested that she purchase one herself at a sporting goods store. She followed her doctor's advice, but got no relief from the store bought appliance. She then went back to her doctor, who sent her to an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT physician).

The ENT specialist thought she had a sinus infection and gave her various medications, including antibiotics, narcotic painkillers and decongestants. None of these therapies worked, however, so the specialist scheduled her for a CAT scan. Fortunately, her husband recommended that she visit the dentist three days before the CAT scan was scheduled. She reluctantly agreed.

When Debbie came into my office, she was understandably distraught. She had missed weeks of work due to the pain and medications she was taking, and her situation had not improved. When I evaluated her, I discovered that an infected tooth was the cause of all of her symptoms. I performed a root canal on the tooth, and within two days, all of her symptoms disappeared. She cancelled her appointment for the CAT scan, and is now back at work.

I suspect that many of you reading this are surprised about what happened with Debbie. Her experience illustrates the importance why and when your family doctor should seek the opinion of a dentist for certain types of ailments. Unfortunately, the reason that a dentist was not consulted is because most medical doctors have little experience with dental problems. Medical doctors are generally not educated in medical school or in their residencies about dental diagnosis or treatment. This can cause many problems for patients, medical doctors and dentists. In Debbie's case, her doctors were doing everything they could to help her, but simply did not know that a dental infection can cause all of the symptoms that she was experiencing. Medical doctors and patients should be aware that any pain or swelling in the mouth, face, head, neck, ear, or sinus can be caused by a dental infection or other dental problem.

Remember, only a dentist can diagnose your dental problems and offer the right treatment plan for you. If you need a dentist, call us at 1-866-970-0441 to be connected with one today.

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