Hi. Can you tell me if I need to see a TMJ specialist? I don’t have any cavities. I haven’t had a cavity since 1985 when I was 7 years old. I have a clean diet. I only have a small treat on the weekend, and not every weekend at that. I am not a soda drinker. So there is no reason that decay would be an issue. I do have tooth pain in my upper right molar teeth. I do grind my teeth a bit but my dentist is watching it. My sister says it’s TMJ and that I should see a specialist even though my dentist says my teeth are stable for now. Do I need to see a specialist or could decay have gotten into my teeth somehow? Thanks Matt


You described your pain as being in your molar teeth, but not in a specific tooth. So you probably don’t have a cavity.

Your dentist can examine and x-ray your teeth to determine if the issue is TMJ related. It is interesting that you have reported your teeth grinding to your dentist, but he has only decided to watch and wait. The problem with waiting without treating is that teeth grinding, or bruxism, exerts pressure on your teeth. If the problem continues, your teeth can weaken, bulge, and even fracture. A night guard can cushion the impact of teeth grinding, help your jaw muscles to relax, and lesson pain.

You can decide whether you want your dentist to conduct the TMJ examination or if you want to see a dentist who specializes in TMJ treatment. Does your dentist have any post-graduate TMJ education? If you decide to see your current dentist and a mouth guard is not recommended, you definitely should see a dentist with TMJ training.

At this point, don’t try to self-treat the issue. Get a professional diagnosis from a dentist first. In addition to a mouth guard, you will be given exercises and suggestions on what you can do at home to decrease the symptoms.

This post is sponsored by Colorado Springs dentist Dr. Joseph Rota.