Hi Deb47 - I also have a history with dental issues in addition to TMJ. For the last few years every painful tooth that has been root canaled (sometimes 3 times per tooth) continued to have a deep pain so I asked to have them extracted. I felt instant relief each time after extraction - it relieved the throbbing. I am in no way telling you to have your teeth pulled though!
There has never been ANY indication from xrays, gum condition, etc., that the teeth were bad. Only when they would extract they would realize the pulp was dead or in process of dying. I've been through a few dentists and it's always the same scenario. We've assumed it's been TMJ related - like the trigger points referring pain in the lower jaw - but that's not the case in my upper jaw.
In trying to find out why my teeth are slowly dying on me, my physician ordered a 3-phase bone scan for me about a month ago. The maxilla is showing abnormal activity indicating lack of blood flow to the area causing tooth death. Mandibular condoyles looked good on the scan though - hallelujah!
I'm operating under the theory right now that my white composite fillings have been leaking for a number of years allowing bacteria to leach in. I don't think they were compatible with my body chemisty - I'll know soon enough as the material will be biopsied and I've been tested for a better material to be used in the future.
Having a good TMJ dentist/specialist test your bite is something you can do. Make sure they know what they're doing - I had one dentist tell me my bite "looked good" for years only to find out from my newest doc that my left disc was displaced and deteriorated causing pain. I went for years with a bad bite and due to clenching and grinding in my sleep I cracked a few of them causing them to die. Self-induced prolonged pressure on a tooth can keep the tooth in pain due to stessing the ligament underneath it too.
[This message has been edited by cathyk (edited 05-27-2003).]