TMJ Treatment Update

TMJ Treatment OptionsImage via

A month or so ago, I talked about my doctor diagnosing me with TMJ. I read up on the problem online, but never followed up with my Dentist until this past Saturday. I am afraid of the Dentist, so I wanted to see if I could cope on my own before enlisting more professional help. Why pay a professional when you have Dr. Google, right? Kidding… I should have listened to my gut and went sooner to find out more about TMJ treatment options.

Like my ENT thought, I do have TMJ, and the appointment was really informative. Here are the facts:

  • TMJ often develops in adults ages 30 thru 40
  • The specific cause of TMJ is unknown, but stress is a known factor
  • 90% of people with TMJ are women
  • Symptoms can come and go without an explanation
  • Treatment options vary
  • Many times the term TMJ is used to describe jaw issues in general

That’s the gist of the breakdown that happened on Saturday. Given the events that have happened in the past 6-8 months of my life, my Dentist thinks that stress is the culprit. Luckily, I do have some treatment options. At the actual appointment, my Dentist checked my bite and lightly sanded down areas where the alignment was off. Now for the next 2 weeks, I have a few instructions.

  1. Wear my retainers every single night. I had braces in middle/high school and lost my retainers. Fast forward to about 3 years ago, I felt like my teeth were running rampid in my mouth so I had new retainers made to stop any further adjustments. These are clear, semi hard retainers that fit to my teeth perfectly. At night if I am grinding and clenching, this should help with the pressure.
  2. Avoid anything that is super chewy like gum or cheap steak. The less stress on my jaw, the better. While a soft food/liquid diet is unnecessary, I should be leery of anything that takes an extra effort to chew.
  3. Keep my mouth shut. Well, not totally. I should avoid opening my mouth super wide. My Dentist used the analogy of opening your mouth wide to take a bite of a hoagie. I guess he knows I love food.. but I digress. I prefer to use the analogy of singing in my car pretending that I am Beyoncé.
  4. Last but not least, I can take Advil or another pain-killer with anti-inflammatory ingredients as needed for pain.
Those are my doctor’s orders for the next two weeks. Since he probed and poked around my sore gums and jaw, he suggested we move my cleaning back so I’m not in too much pain afterwards. Fair enough…despite the fact that he gets a double co-pay from me.
Oh… and about the stress? Yes, I need to learn to cope with stress, but my Dentist was very candid in saying that stress is stress. If there are stressors, there is stress. It is not realistic to think that I can tell myself to calm down and then the TMJ will miraculously disappear. For now, I am focusing on reducing stress (post coming soon) AND the actual treatment recommendations to eleviate the pain. As usual, I’ll keep ya’ll posted.

 How do you cope with stress?

Do you get upset when you have to pay a copay for a follow-up visit?

Do you love or hate the Dentist?

4 Comments

  1. Carla says:

    I do NOT like the dentist. Having been born with a cleft palate I’m terrified of someone poking in there and messing stuff up that’s not easy to repair. I have severe anxiety over it even though I’ve never had a problem that I can recall. Since I’ve been at my “new” job (2 1/2 yrs lol) I admit that I have not had my yearly dental appointment and really need to go. I used to be very good about it but we don’t have a dentist with Saturday hours any more (Jason has to go with me and stay in the room or I will be a total freakazoid).

    I’m sorry but I’m not the best person regarding stress. I’d say workout but I know you do with it. I’m glad your dentist is realistic about all of that. Sorry you are still suffering with the TMJ, I’ve heard it can be painful.

    3.11.14 ·
  2. I’ve had really bad experiences with dentists since I moved to Manhattan. I swear that they try and take advantage of you to get as much money as possible. I had one bill me for a procedure that was not done and another perform an unnecessary procedure. It is so frustrating! Anyway, I digress.

    There is no magic cure for stress. I try to visualize (calm blue ocean), yoga breathing and exercise. Also, sleep helps!

    3.11.14 ·
  3. Faith says:

    My girlfriend Colleen has TMJ and it was definitely a stress reason for her. It has gotten better for her.

    Sometimes I cry, scream but mostly I try to workout. I am able to calm my mind when I’m exercising.

    I hate having to pay a co-pay for a follow up! In my opinion it should be included.

    Growing up I hated the dentist so much. My first dentist was a scary man to me. It still affects me now but I still go because I have no choice.

    3.11.14 ·

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