i am new here and new to tmj. well, new to finally figuing out what it is all about. i was diagnosed with tmj 2 years ago by an oral surgeon/facial pain specialist. i was having mild to moderate, consistent pain in my jaws and had noticed my teeth were moving around. that was basically all my symptoms. the doctor gave me a very well-made, expensive splint ($2400) and told me that it would take the pressure off my jaws and keep them in their proper place and that my teeth would never move around again. but when the splint was made, my bite was very bad. my back teeth didn't meet in back on one side. so, unfortunately, once the pain went away, i stopped wearing the splint because my bite seemed better when i didn't use it. (i was starting to wear the thing thin in a couple spots too - so i guess i must really be doing something at night!)
well, unfortunately, i've learned that not using the splint was a mistake. becuase now my teeth are moving around again and i've noticed that my gums are beginning to recede a lot. my bite is still not as bad as it was, but i think that may be a bad thing - i am told i'm wearing my jaw bones and teeth down. the problem of shifting teeth is exacerbated because i have a bridge across the top front of my mouth. it doesn't move as much as my real teeth, so my teeth on the bottom are beginning to get displaced even more because they hit the back of the bridge when i close my mouth. all my teeth are starting to have badly receding gums.
i recently went to my dentist (a good dentist whom i trust - in general). he said the receding gums are because of the clenching and grinding i do at night and not because i brush bad or anything. he said that my jaw bones are 'deteriorating' from the pressure and that causes my gums to recede too. he says he can make me a night guard - same thing as a splint for $300, a whole lot less that my original splint. he said the night guard will keep pressure off my jaws just as well and will keep my teeth from moving around and my gums from receding further. now, i like that.
but i want to do the right thing. and i am so confused. so i have questions:
1. who do i trust? the doctor who will want me to buy another $2400 splint (my first one won't fit so good now - too tight)? or the dentist who knows about teeth and says his splint for $300 will be fine.
2. since my bottom teeth still hit my top teeth in front, do i really want them to stay in this position by wearing a splint? they are getting pushed back and the gums damaged. shouldn't i try to get my teeth where they belong before i get a splint of any type? is there a way to do that? i can't exactly wear a splint and braces at the same time, can i? i could think about a new bridge... ??
3. what about the root cause of all the clenching and grinding in the first place? someone told me that this could all be stressed related and i might just need counseling. however, i can honestly state that, except for this, life is pretty good. and if i'm stressed, i'm not aware of it. but it seems to me that if i can fix the root cause of the clenching and grinding, i can avoid a lot of hassle.
i am determined to figure out what all this tmj stuff is about and what is the best plan of action for me. any information and advice from you would be greatly appreciated. links to good website and books are welcome too.
thanks in advance for your help. be blessed.