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Old 05-28-2004, 07:52 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 3
mommika HB User
Question receding gums/moving teeth


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.


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Old 05-29-2004, 05:32 PM   #2
Senior Veteran
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 631
Arleen HB User
Re: receding gums/moving teeth

Hi Amy:

I've had bad gum recession for over 2 years. It started dental work badly shifted my bite so my teeth no longer fit together. I don't know if this is what's happening in your situation but malocclusion can cause recession (although most dentists won't acknowledge this). With malocclusion often comes uneven pressure on the teeth, putting uneven pressure on the gums. The areas taking the most pressure are most likely tor recede. Grinding and clenching, which can also be signs of malocclusion, add to the gum problem.

I can't tell you how many times I've been told my problems are due to brushing too vigorously (even though everything hurts so much I can hardly put a toothbrush to my teeth and gums) or due to my age, 49. I put the comment you received about grinding being due to stress in the same category as the uninformed comments I've received. Give it enough time, and you'll also be told your problems are due to depression

I have moving teeth. Everyone's teeth move to some extent. I believe mine move because of my uneven bite and uneven pressure. I was told by someone whose opinion I trust that uneven pressure on the posterior teeth can cause movement of the anterior teeth. Depending which mouthguard or splint I wear, the problem is more or less pronounced. I believe with a properly balanced splint this would not be an issue.

A lot of tmj sufferers have off bites. Splint therapy stabilizes the jaw joints and relaxes the muscles. Most people find after wearing a splint 24/7 over months, that their teeth no longer fit. That's why after a patient is stabilized and painfree, they'll proceed to phase II, which is orthodontics or reconstruction so that their bite can adjusted to match the position into which the splint put their jaw joints.

Good luck on choosing a dentist. It's difficult to find one that has a good understanding of tmd.

Take care.

Old 05-29-2004, 06:43 PM   #3
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 3
mommika HB User
Re: receding gums/moving teeth


thanks for the information. i appreciate the response.

i only mentioned the stress theory because someone told me his wife was diagnosed with tmj and, after a little therapy, she learned how to let it out and escaped from impending reconstruction and surgery. but i'm sure there are other reasons folks get tmj. i know i'm not stressed.

something interesting i've noticed here is all the people here are women. i wonder if women suffer from this more than men?

the only time i had pain was a couple years ago before the doctor put me in a splint and on ibuprofin for a while - but it was never awful like what i've read here. i am thinking i'm pretty lucky after all...

so if i'm not having pain now, maybe i should consider orthodontics. i just wonder if i'd pop my braces off or something by all the grinding and clenching i do at night, if that's what i'm doing - hard to tell. i've got an appointment with the oral surgeon set up. i'll ask about it.

i think i have a good oral surgeon/facial pain specialist and a pretty good dentist too. unfortunately, the dentist is not covered by my insurance and neither are the splints from the oral surgeon. i live in central florida. if you know of anyone in my part of the country, and they need a referral, let me know.

thanks again for your help. i hope you get well soon.

be blessed.


Old 05-29-2004, 08:11 PM   #4
Senior Veteran
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Toronto
Posts: 631
Arleen HB User
Re: receding gums/moving teeth

Hi Amy:

There have been men on the board, but I believe more women suffer tmd than men.

If you aren't in pain now and have been through splint therapy, maybe your joints are in the right place?? If ortho is recommended for you, ensure that the ortho is also watching the position of your condyles (jaw joints) while rearranging your teeth. You don't want to end up with ortho that has your teeth looking lovely but has moved your joints into a bad position.

I'm in Canada so can't help you with a Florida referral. You might want to post using that as the title of a new thread. Insurance here and in the States doesn't seem to cover much in the way of tmd treatment, although some people manage to get cover by putting claims in under myofacial pain dysfunction.

Take care.

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