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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Last but not least, I can take Advil or another pain-killer with anti-inflammatory ingredients as needed for pain.
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?