Re: Orthodontics and TMJD problems
I am convinced my ortho 20 years ago caused my tmd as well. I never put 2 and 2 together until just a few weeks ago, after my current dentist (whom I switched to for reasons having nothing to do with tmd) insisted he work on my tmd because he couldn't do the dental work he needed to on a tooth due to my limited opening and open lock problems. Well, he took molds for a repositioning splint that very first visit and 2 days later I was on splint therapy. I was skeptical because I have had a night guard for 20 years and although it may have kept my teeth from destroying each other, it did nothing to improve my situation. I had always assumed this was something I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life (it may still be). He said he could see my problem right away, without any diagnostics, due to my bite and the way the past ortho positioned my teeth so vertically...my lower jaw looked too far back. Again, I was skeptical...I mean, I had had that bite for 20 years...it never occurred to me that it was messed up. Lo and behold, 2 weeks later, the most comfortable position for my jaw is indeed several mms forward and slightly down. My opening increased about 8 mms (a big deal to some of us), which it hasn't been able to do in years and years. So far the clicking and popping are gone, although it's hard to confirm that since my new bite doesn't allow me to bite all the way down on my back molars...which brings me to the ultimate irony: looks like my old braces caused me to need more braces. Of course this time for a longer time, and with debateable results. I will most likely need crownwork even after the braces are removed, and I'll be lucky if my currently beautiful virgin teeth aren't drilled away as well as having what I jokingly refer to as "buck teeth" and newly acquired gaps between my teeth to accomodate the new, preferred position of my jaw. I asked my dentist if I should be mad at my old orthodontist (hee hee), but he said I shouldn't because apparently that was the "style" of ortho then, based on what they knew of the tmjoint. Of course times have changed; witness the fact that surgery was usually the first thing recommended even 5-10 years ago (it was to me in 1993 and again in 1997, but I wimped out, thank goodness). Nowadays it's all about conservative therapy first, and surgery as a last resort and only in select cases...the way it should have always been.
I'm excited about how my particular tmd responded to phase I therapy, but now I'm bummed about the implications of it (drilling good teeth, saying goodbye to my pretty smile that I like so much, expenditures the insurance company seems to think is not worth covering, 2-3 years of looking like an adolescent again, no guaranteed results even after all of that)...it's enough to make me wonder what's worse. But lamenting aside, I'd rather take the chance with the possibility of having a jaw that works and doesn't cause me so much grief. I'm trying to focus on the positive. I know there are tmd sufferers out there who would give every single one of their "good teeth" or gladly have all that work done if it meant they might be rid of their jaw pain and problems.