Headaches, Headaches, & More Headaches
Q: About eight years ago I had problems with my front teeth and they had to come out. I had to wait till my gums healed to get a partial flipper so I could at least smile. After a year I’d had enough because I couldn’t eat with it in my mouth so I went back and they said, “We can give you a new set of teeth that will stay in better.” This time I got a real partial with clips and such so it would stay in my mouth as I ate. It was a whole lot better for about two years when I started getting toothaches.
When I went back, I was told I was getting decay on my back teeth where the partial was hanging on. Some of the teeth he filled, and others had to get root canals. They told me to take them out at night, but I didn’t want to because I was afraid someone would see me without my teeth, so I kept them in.
Well the inevitable did happen and I lost a back tooth to decay. They even had to cut part of the partial off that was hanging onto that tooth. As the dentist was doing the adjusting, he said, “You should have a bridge and get rid of this partial. Why don’t we get some records and do a proper diagnosis. The thought of getting rid of the partial was welcome and exciting.
At the consultation appointment when the dentist was explaining the process of getting rid of the partial, he asked, “do you get headaches very often?” “Yes,” I said, “about three or four times a week.” “Where do your headaches register,” he said. I pointed to the sides of my head and back of my skull. “I thought that might be the case,” he said. “How did you know,” I asked? “When I was analyzing your models on the bite simulator, I could see your lower front teeth hitting the framework of the partial and they had a tendency to push your jaw backward. The pressing of your teeth meeting the partial pushes your jaw backward, then your muscles and joint react to that force and constantly feel ‘forced.’ This leads to headaches.” Will the bridge really get rid of my headaches?
A: You’ve experienced some serious setbacks. Losing teeth not once but at least twice, rampant decay, and then experiencing orthopaedic jaw problems.
Dental treatment and then good oral hygiene care is a team effort with you playing a significant part. Replacing teeth with either removable teeth (a partial) or fixed (cemented) bridgework requires careful attention and good communication so that the fit is excellent and the instructions for care are communicated over and over. We all learn better with repetition.
The bridgework is easier to clean and maintain, and if done well will reduce or eliminate headaches. It will make you less self-conscious about being seen without your front teeth because they will be a part of you.
Get it done, you’ll be very happy you did.
Based on actual patient cases
@ Calvin Ross Crapo