It must be very helpful having your best friend being a dentist!
I live in the u.k and there isn't much help for tmj here. I always tell myself that my tmj will get better tomorrow or next week but it never does, it has been about 6 years now I think. You are probably right about the imflamation, all my pain is from a trigger point in my lower jaw. I have read in a tmj book that a nasal obstruction can cause this trigger point pain. I have a lump up my nose(on the painful side)from nasal surgey six years ago so this is my latest theory as to what is causing my pain. I am waiting to see a ear, nose and throat specialist about the lump. People tell me that they can't see how a lump up the nose can cause jaw pain but that is what the book say's. If the lump is causing my pain then I will be both very pleased and angry! I really hope your new phase of treatmeant goes well and like you say stay hopeful! Are you in alot of pain? I don't use my mouth guard anymore.