Cosmetic Dentistry Blog Cosmetic and General Dentistry Questions Answered

February 3, 2018

My mouth seems to be collapsing

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Hi Dr. Hall,
I really hope you can help me.
I am not sure if my issue is related to my lips, teeth or jaw but I absolutely can’t stand my smile. It feels very forced to be able to show my upper teeth. When my mouth is in repose it is just empty space and you cannot see my teeth (especially my upper) and it makes me extremely self-conscious.
I also have jaw pain and wear a night guard and when I wear it my mouth feels more comfortable and I feel like it supports my lips better. It also gives an impression of upper tooth show that I would very much like. I also find I have difficult pronouncing certain words especially when it’s cold, almost as if my jaw tighten and I can’t open it properly to speak. P and T words are especially uncomfortable.

Are my only options veneers? Do I even have any options?

It’s very frustrating for me. I can attach pictures as well if need be.
– Laura from Toronto

You’re going to need to be very careful how your proceed here, and if a dentist has told you that porcelain veneers will solve your problem, I would find another dentist. While that could help with your appearance, it could exacerbate your other problems—the jaw pain and trouble with pronunciation.

It sounds to me like you’ve worn your teeth down, making you overclosed. This could cause TMJ disorder, which would be characterized by jaw pain and possible tightness in your jaw. The fact that you feel better wearing a nightguard lends credence to that diagnosis, but you’ll need an examination by a dentist trained in TMJ therapy to confirm that.

The needed treatment, unfortunately, is likely to be extensive—probably a full-mouth reconstruction.

The problem is finding a dentist you can trust to do this. This is way beyond the capability of your average family dentist. I would look for a dentist with advanced training from one of three institutes:

  • The Pankey Institute in Florida
  • The Dawson Academy, also in Florida
  • The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies

Good luck.
Dr. Hall

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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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