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TMJ Disorder -TemporoMandibular Joint Message Board
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Old 02-24-2013, 09:53 AM   #1
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Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

I never heard of TMJ until I was in college. One of my friends had it and she described it to me.

My jaw has been cracking for years. Since I was a preteen. I thought it was normal. I remember my dentist asking me questions concerning TMJ, but I just remember saying no.

Like I said my jaw has been cracking for years. My left jaw cracks more than the right. I have been clenching my teeth as long as I can remember. Does that affect how much my jaw cracks? I remember some days that I could not even open my mouth for a few minutes. It felt like my jaw was wired shut. I have read some of the symptoms of TMJ and my symptoms does match especially the ear aches and jaw pain.

Do you think I may have TMJ? Is there something that can help me stop clenching my teeth?

 
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:43 AM   #2
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Re: Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

Dear Trish Lives,

Very often people with TMJ disorder will have their jaw crack when opening, closing, and/or eating. I was told by my fist oral surgeon that it was from the cartilage slipping in and out of the joint space. I don't know if this is actually the case, however when I had some radiological studies done (MRI wasn't available for the joint back then) it turned out that my cartilage had actually dislocated (the cracking had stopped so I thought I was in the clear - WRONG!) What I would recommend is seeing a dentist (prosthodontist, oral surgeon, or from everything I've read on this site, a neuromuscular dentist). You should probably have the joints examined by CT or better yet MRI to see if anything is really happening in the joints. However, don't be intimidated by the dentist is they start to talk surgery - that's the last thing you want to do. Try a soft food diet, and the dentist (and I do really recommend a prosthodontist as they specialize in maintaining the occlusive surface of your teeth, or your "bite") may make you a retainer or something like it to wear at night to prevent clenching or grinding of your teeth. I've had TMJ dysfunction since my early 20s and have now had a total of 6 operations. They were all necessary, and I got 2nd opinions on all of them to ensure that they were necessary. The 5th operation was a total joint replacement (even I could see the level of damage to both joints from the CT scan - it was really bad). The only unfortunate thing is that once you get on the surgery merry-go-round, it's very difficult if not impossible to get off of it.

I hope this helps without terrifying you. TMJ disorder can be medically managed without resorting to surgery, so definitely try the conservative route first.

Pam

 
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:48 AM   #3
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Re: Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by pamo810 View Post
Dear Trish Lives,

Very often people with TMJ disorder will have their jaw crack when opening, closing, and/or eating. I was told by my fist oral surgeon that it was from the cartilage slipping in and out of the joint space. I don't know if this is actually the case, however when I had some radiological studies done (MRI wasn't available for the joint back then) it turned out that my cartilage had actually dislocated (the cracking had stopped so I thought I was in the clear - WRONG!) What I would recommend is seeing a dentist (prosthodontist, oral surgeon, or from everything I've read on this site, a neuromuscular dentist). You should probably have the joints examined by CT or better yet MRI to see if anything is really happening in the joints. However, don't be intimidated by the dentist is they start to talk surgery - that's the last thing you want to do. Try a soft food diet, and the dentist (and I do really recommend a prosthodontist as they specialize in maintaining the occlusive surface of your teeth, or your "bite") may make you a retainer or something like it to wear at night to prevent clenching or grinding of your teeth. I've had TMJ dysfunction since my early 20s and have now had a total of 6 operations. They were all necessary, and I got 2nd opinions on all of them to ensure that they were necessary. The 5th operation was a total joint replacement (even I could see the level of damage to both joints from the CT scan - it was really bad). The only unfortunate thing is that once you get on the surgery merry-go-round, it's very difficult if not impossible to get off of it.

I hope this helps without terrifying you. TMJ disorder can be medically managed without resorting to surgery, so definitely try the conservative route first.

Pam
Surgery? That is the last thing I would ever want! Well I have had an overbite my entire life. Nothing too significant to be fixed. So next time I go to the dentist just mention that I had my jaw cracking for years?

Does your ears hurt a lot since you have TMJ? Mine always hurt. My mom would always tell me its because I always my earbuds in my ears, but sometimes I don't use them and they still hurt. A few weeks ago I felt like I had an ear infection. Can TMJ do that?

 
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Old 03-08-2013, 06:13 PM   #4
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Re: Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

i have felt like i have had an ear infection for months, never thought it was TMJ related until i saw my dentist. and it's only my left ear and upper jaw area. sounds to me like you do have this disorder and should consult your dentist in being fitted for a mouth guard. personally i believe mouth guards only protect the teeth (which is good, you need that) but the clenching is not controllable. that is what i am struggling with.

 
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Old 03-10-2013, 10:31 AM   #5
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Re: Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandolyn View Post
i have felt like i have had an ear infection for months, never thought it was TMJ related until i saw my dentist. and it's only my left ear and upper jaw area. sounds to me like you do have this disorder and should consult your dentist in being fitted for a mouth guard. personally i believe mouth guards only protect the teeth (which is good, you need that) but the clenching is not controllable. that is what i am struggling with.
Yes! I have made an appointment, but I never got a confirmation so I am going to make another one. The other night I was yawning and my jaw kept popping. The pain was ridiculous.

 
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:19 PM   #6
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Re: Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandolyn View Post
i have felt like i have had an ear infection for months, never thought it was TMJ related until i saw my dentist. and it's only my left ear and upper jaw area. sounds to me like you do have this disorder and should consult your dentist in being fitted for a mouth guard. personally i believe mouth guards only protect the teeth (which is good, you need that) but the clenching is not controllable. that is what i am struggling with.
I went to the dentist and he heard himself my jaw popping. All he said that I should get a mouth guard for the clenching. That is it. A mouth guard that isn't covered by my insurance at all. What am I supposed to do about the pain from the popping and locking?

 
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Old 04-10-2013, 06:36 PM   #7
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Re: Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

Trish- I understand. Right now I am still dealing with pain but it takes time once you have pain... you have to ice it and then apply moist heat to the area and stick to soft foods until it doesn't hurt. The popping should be fixed by the mouth guard if you wear it at night. I don't know why but apparently wearing the guard at night will fix your bite when you clench and keep your teeth from damage. Sometimes my jaw crackles when I eat or yawn and when I do any cardio there is a clicking in my left ear (which is TMJ related) I am suppose to get my custom guard tomorrow. I wore an over the counter mouth guard for years and never had this problem until recently so I finally bit the bullet and had one made by my dentist- it's harder than the OTC ones. But yes, EXPENSIVE! My insurance only covers a very small percentage. They do have payment plans through Care Credit- dont know if you heard of that. But definitely get a guard to wear at night. You can try the OTC ones if you want to, but if you dont make it the right way it could make your TMJ worse. My dentist told me I needed a harder material so that is why I am having this one made. It doesn't cause your bite to continually get out of whack and should align my jaw, back to where it should be. He said if that doesn't help then he will refer me to an oral surgeon for CT scans.

In the mean time, eat soft foods, take advil or ibuprofen or even aleve to get the inflammation down in the jaw muscles and if they are sore, rub them gently- like massage them throughout the day. My jaw felt better yesterday, then I ate something today that wasn't as soft and now it hurts again so I know I tried too soon. BUT they say it takes time once you do end up aggravating that area. Also chew on BOTH sides when eating. Never eat on just one side.

I hope that helps!
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Old 04-11-2013, 01:01 PM   #8
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Re: Possible TMJ suffer.. I am not sure...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TrishLives17 View Post
I went to the dentist and he heard himself my jaw popping. All he said that I should get a mouth guard for the clenching. That is it. A mouth guard that isn't covered by my insurance at all. What am I supposed to do about the pain from the popping and locking?
A custom mouth gaurd will help reduce the impact clenching has on your jaw = it won't eliminate. When do you clench - during the day? At night? If you clench during the day and your conscious of it - try to stop through relaxation exercises. I used to clench very badly when I was stressed out and my jaw muscles would get so tight that sometimes I could barely move my jaw. I'm much better now but still clench involuntarily at night. The night guard helps reduce the impact that clenching has on your teeth and muscles and I have found it has made a difference for me - less pain and stiffness in the morning from clenching at night. Also try to get a good night sleep, I've been told that clenching is worse when you are in light sleep as opposed to deep sleep. Other things to consider is massage therapy or physio to help relax the muscles. You can also try hot/cold packs. From the way you describe it, it sounds like your jaw muscles are very tight. Also, muscle relaxants are often prescribed to help the muscles relax.

It would be advisable to get further diagnostic testing done, like an MRI or CT scans of the jaw if you can afford it But a good start if you are a clencher is to get a custom night gaurd made but you probably need to see a specialist - not sure if your regular dentist has the expertise to do this. I know they are expensive but they are worth it in the long run. Don't buy over the counter guards - they can make things worse.

As for the popping and locking, there is a disk made of cartilige that has to move in order to let your jaw open and close smoothly. I'm no expert but it sounds like this disk isn't moving properly. There can be many causes of this - including if your muscles are too tight. That is why absent any obvious deformity in the jaw or evidence that your bite is off, the typical therapy is to start with physio to try to get the muslces to relax.

I hope this helps, good luck.

Marsha

 
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