Following from my last post:
So what is the problem? I'm still not exactly sure. I went to the dentist in October and it didn't help me one bit - it made me feel like a total dumbass for even going, like some kind of dental hypochondriac. But the problem didn't go away.
At the end of January I couldn't take it anymore and I went back. My dentist and I evidently do not communicate well. I told her it felt like there was something stuck between two of my teeth all the time and she started flossing back there to show me there wasn't anything there. I said, "I don't think there's actually something stuck in there, but that's what it feels like." She said, "Well, there's nothing in there." Argh!
She takes an x-ray. She bangs on my teeth (the ones on the other side of my mouth from the problem area hurt for two days afterwards). She says "bite down here," "bite down here" on a plate. She doesn't check the fillings, doesn't inspect the teeth for a crack, doesn't even check my occlusion. Besides the x-ray, she's not doing anything I couldn't do in front of my bathroom mirror.
And with the x-ray...well, maybe it's because I am a sciency smarty pants, but not once but twice I caught her pointing at the wrong teeth. She lost my confidence for good right there.
The one thing we did establish is that I am bruxing (grinding my teeth). No shit, ya think? She says, "We can either get you a bite guard and you can see if it goes away, or you can go to the endodontist to see if you have a crack in the tooth." I say, "What do you recommend?" and she responds, "Those are options!"
Well fuck, lady, you're the dentist. You tell me.
So I went to the endodontist. Trim man of about 60 - cool accent: might be Indian or might be Italian, who knows - but he exuded competence. Not that it's either here or there, but I liked him a lot. He tells me he's a root canal specialist and it's obvious I don't need a root canal (this was news to me - I was worried). He says root canal means serious pain but according to Dr. Google (I know, I should avoid Dr. Google) you can need a root canal even if your tooth doesn't hurt at all. He puts some cold stuff on the end of a long q-tip thing and pokes around a bit, asks me if it hurts here or here. He takes two x-rays and looks at my teeth with a magnifying glass. He tells me my tooth's not cracked, which is what I really thought it was. It's not the filling - the pain is wrong for that kind of problem.
He says, "You've got a gum problem. You need to go to the periodontist." He shows me that my gums are irritated. "Your teeth are very clean, you obviously floss, but look at this." He gently pokes with the dental pick at the gum between two teeth. All of a sudden there's blood everywhere - I'm looking in the mirror and it's all over my tongue. "This shouldn't happen."
Then he says what is probably the punchline. "By the way, you grind. It's bad. Maybe the periodontist can help fix your occlusion."
So I wonder if the grinding isn't stressing and irritating the gum.
I wasn't sure if the grinding was the cause or the result of the other problem, but this leads me to believe it's the cause.
Next steps: get a referral to a periodontist, find a new dentist and get a bite guard, and - most importantly - try to fucking relax.