My TMJ problems started at a dental visit back in January. My dentist asked me to turn my head to the right and open wide. As I did this there was a crunch in the left side of my jaw. This didn't hurt at the time although the dentist did look a little shocked by the noise. I was extremely anxious during the visit my dentist had just informed me that I would need to have my three remaining wisdom teeth removed at the hospital.
When I got home after the visit I felt a burning sensation along my gum at the top left side. This burning, prickly feeling went on for two weeks before I went back to the dentist to find out what was going on. She said it could only be a fungal infection and then prescribed medication for an ulcer, which I certainly didn't have. I also didn't have any symptoms of a fungal infection either, no white spots etc. I used the ulcer medication for a couple of days and then made an appointment with my doctor. After examination he couldn't find anything wrong with my mouth but he pressed on a spot just in front of my ear and asked me to open my mouth and the pain was so intense I nearly went through the roof. He then told me I had a TMJ problem and that the crunch in the dentist was more than likely my jaw dislocating and pinching the nerves and damaging ligaments etc. I was told to rest the jaw, apply heat and take anti inflammatory pain killers.
Six weeks later I was still in pain with constant burning along my left upper gum and a tenderness around my jaw joint. My hospital appointment came through for the wisdom tooth removal, which my doctor said to go along to but probably not have the teeth removed but to discuss my TMJ problem and maybe get a mouth guard. The oral surgeon at the hospital agreed that there was no need to take out my teeth, as the are fully erupted and causing no problems. After being prodded about for nearly two hours and looking at x-rays etc he said I had something called atypical facial pain and sent me away with exercises for TMJ. He also said to apply heat to the joint twice a day, eat soft foods, avoid yawning etc. He made me an appointment for two months after this visit and if things haven't improved then he would fit me with a splint and prescribe antidepressants for the pain.
What I am confused with now after trying to research my problem is, is the atypical facial pain caused by the TMJ disorder? I have only come across a couple of people who have burning gums along with TMJ. Is there anything else I can do to help relieve this burning pain? I am an anxious person and I really don't want to have to go back on antidepressants with all their side effects. Also will the facial pain go eventually or is this something I have for life. I also have soreness in my tongue and my front teeth tingle when its really bad, but this I can relieve when I concentrate on relaxing my face muscles. I am also pretty much pain free when I am eating or cleaning and flossing my teeth, I am not sure if this is because of the jaw position or the massage on the gums.
I thank you in advance for any help or advice you can offer.
Tracy, I especially loved the part in your story about your dentist saying that the symptoms were from a fungal infection....Sometimes I wonder what these people are thinking? lol. Anyway, what happened to you when you heard the crunch sound is exactly what the other doctor described. Whenever you here crunching in the joints, the disc has been displaced to some extent, or fully, and you are hitting bone on bone within the joint. The way that the dentist had you turn your head was just enough for your muscles to pull the disc out of place and cause this to happen. Are you still hearing this crunching? or clicking as well? What are your symptoms now? As far as the prickling pain, I believe it's nerve pain within your joint, caused by a poor mandible position. You see, if someone's mandible is retruded too far back up into the joint, the condyle (very top bone in lower jaw..) has no room to function properly, causing clicking, crunching, pain, muscular pain, etc. Once this can be addressed, primarily with a repositional Orthodic if need be, it can reposition the jaw and bring it down and forward into a properly working position. I am going through this treatment right now myself. What I can tell you is this. If you are starting to have crunching, muscular pain, etc...you need to leave your wisdom teeth alone, especially if there's no problem with them, and consult with a good tmj specialist. Someone who devotes at least 35% of their practice to tmj treatment. Someone who does Neuromuscular dentistry, and also Functional Jaw Orthodontics. IMO, these are the doctors that get it. And yes, the nerve pain, muscular pain, and the tooth pain are NOT here to stay if you get the proper help. I'm living proof of that. take care, J.
Thank you so much for your reply Jill, you are the first person I've found who can identify with me.
I don't hear the crunching sound anymore, but my jaw is tight when I try to open it too far. The main problem is the burning in my mouth and gums but hopefully once my jaw is back in its normal position the nerves can then begin to heal.
I have an appointment with the oral surgeons at the hospital again in a couple of weeks, who thankfully say that the wisdom teeth should stay. I wish I had never gone to the dentist in the first place. The toothache I had which prompted the initial visit was far less painful than what I am feeling now.
Good luck with everything Tracy----be aware that surgeons are not tmj specialists, and for the most part do not know how to treat tmj non-invasively. There are some out there that definitely do, but I doubt they practice neuromuscular. I've never come across one that does. Just be cautious with your next move..and check out some tmj specialists in your area. It's way worth the $ and your time to consult with several. If you go that route, just look for one that has the qualifications that I listed in my last reply. take care, J.