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  • College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction?

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    Old 08-09-2011, 12:04 AM   #1
    Scientistguy
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    Exclamation College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction?

    Hello everyone. I've been lurking these boards for the past couple months, but now I feel that it's my turn to post my own thread.

    Two months ago I went through a high-stress situation and realized that there was a sharp pain in both of my ears that would come and go. I went to the doctor and he said that there was an issue with my fifth cranial nerve and diagnosed me with Gabapentin. The medicine ran out two weeks later, and I went back because the symptoms has worsened. He again prescribed the same medicine, only strong. I continued to have issues so I sought a second and third opinion. The Ibuprofen definitely helps, but the headaches come back shortly after the medicine wears off.

    A week later (before I went to see the other doctors), I began developing head pain and had numb jaws. A week later, the ear pain had subsided quite a bit and I realized that the pain was actually coming from my cheeks, and eventually the joints.

    The second and third doctors both diagnosed me with TMJ after they located where the pain was coming from and after and made me realize that my neck and shoulders were becoming stiff. They prescribed Ibuprofen 800mg twice a day and said that the pain should be gone in a month, and if not, to find a TMJ specialist or go to the hospital to get referred as they had minimal experience in the field. One doctor said that that it may be caused by my under bite.

    I have had braces twice in the past. The first time was when I was in elementary school and I had issues with some teeth coming out crooked. The second time was in middle/high school when my front teeth were jutting out. There was some work to correct my underbite to move it forward, but it was never really complete.

    I find myself now about to fly out to college in North Carolina soon, and I have no idea how to proceed. Should I get an NTI? Should I get splints? Should I get braces? How much will this all cost? What dentists do I trust? I've seen some people pay 2-3 times as much for the same treatment on these boards... how do I know I'm not being over charged?

    I've got around $1,500-$2,000 on hand ready to spend on treatments. I REALLY can't study with these headaches and random ear aches gnawing at me. I was thinking of getting the NTI and taking anti-inflammatories along with a Neurontin to make this pain manageable so I can get through school while saving up money for a more long term solution.

    If someone on this board can tell me how much phase one or an NTI costs and how long it takes to see improvement, that would be a huge help. I'll be in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. If someone could recommend doctors, that would be fantastic.

    My symptoms:
    • Ear pain
    • Constant headaches
    • - Jaw numbness around cheeks
    • - Clicking and popping when opening jaw

    Thank you and God bless

    Last edited by Scientistguy; 08-09-2011 at 12:37 AM.

     
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    Old 08-09-2011, 06:50 AM   #2
    TMJ82
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    Scientistguy
    I feel your pain, I have been a college student not so long ago and I would really like to help you.
    First, there is definitely an issue with your bite. Why was not underbite resolved by two rounds of braces? Is it mostly dental (i.e. tipping of teeth, and thus treatable with braces), or is it skeletal (i.e. the sizes of your jaws do not match, and thus requires surgery in an adult)? I would definitely schedule a consultations with a reputable orthodontist to figure that out (initial consultations are free in most places).
    At the same time, if you want an NTI, you may go ahead and have it done. I was quoted $600, but my insurance reduced it in half. I have never had it done though, because I got braces (to correct slight unilateral crossbite and overbite, and expand the dental arches).
    I personally think that bite normalization is the first step one must take in the TMJ correction. But of course, I am not a doctor and this is just my personal opinion. Good luck to you!

     
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    Old 08-09-2011, 06:56 AM   #3
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TMJ82 View Post
    Scientistguy
    I feel your pain, I have been a college student not so long ago and I would really like to help you.
    First, there is definitely an issue with your bite. Why was not underbite resolved by two rounds of braces? Is it mostly dental (i.e. tipping of teeth, and thus treatable with braces), or is it skeletal (i.e. the sizes of your jaws do not match, and thus requires surgery in an adult)? I would definitely schedule a consultations with a reputable orthodontist to figure that out (initial consultations are free in most places).
    At the same time, if you want an NTI, you may go ahead and have it done. I was quoted $600, but my insurance reduced it in half. I have never had it done though, because I got braces (to correct slight unilateral crossbite and overbite, and expand the dental arches).
    I personally think that bite normalization is the first step one must take in the TMJ correction. But of course, I am not a doctor and this is just my personal opinion. Good luck to you!
    Ah thank you for your reply!

    I called around ten different dentists in my area and a couple of them can get the NTI done for $250, so I feel like I'll do that first. I found a few free consults in the area as well, so I'll go and do that before I get the NTI.

    Ah, I hope that my jaw isn't mismatched. I'll go and see an ortho and hopefully the news will be good!

    Half the general dentist's I called said that they refer all TMJ patients to oral surgeons. I take it they haven't read half the posts on this forum?

    Thanks again!

     
    Old 08-09-2011, 03:39 PM   #4
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Scientistguy View Post
    Half the general dentist's I called said that they refer all TMJ patients to oral surgeons.
    Thanks again!
    I would say, unless there is significant structural deterioration in your jaw joints, stay as far away of the surgeons as you can! While you can undo or redo almost everything else, the surgery is permanent and if something goes wrong, you are in trouble.
    As I said, I have a feeling that something about your bite and two (failed?)orthodontic treatments in the past has to do with your jaw acting up. I don't think that at your age, you have the permanent structural changes yet (significant enough to warrant surgery), but definitely get it sorted out to avoid problems in the future.
    I am quite in your situation myself, I am 28 and have had bite problems (one-tooth back crossbite and 80% overbite) since I remember myself. My parents never bothered to correct that and I have never had any problems until I had dental work done. Apparently, it had disturbed my crooked bite (or obviated whatever distortions it already had), and I ended up with significant TMJ pain. Lucky me, it was muscular (can't get any damage to healthy TMJs in 6 months that way). I now have upper braces and my pain diminished significantly. Lowers to come in 4 weeks, and I hope my TMJ issues will dissolve as my bite gets normalized.
    Good luck to you and I hope you feel better!

     
    Old 08-09-2011, 03:42 PM   #5
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    How much do you imagine braces would cost?

    I'm trying to find a dentist who's heard of phase I/phase II but so far no one has any idea what I'm talking about. -.-

     
    Old 08-09-2011, 03:54 PM   #6
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Scientistguy View Post
    How much do you imagine braces would cost?

    I'm trying to find a dentist who's heard of phase I/phase II but so far no one has any idea what I'm talking about. -.-
    It is hard to accurately predict the cost of braces, but I would imagine, treating adult underbite will cost around 5-6K (or more) and last around 2 years - IF this is dental. If this is mostly skeletal, you will have to do braces + jaw surgery + braces again. The cost will jump significantly, but your health insurance may kick in. Any more or less skilled ortho will be able to tell you, whether you need surgery or not (consults are usually free).

    I would not worry about phase I and II yet, before you have MRIs of your jaw joints.

     
    Old 08-09-2011, 04:38 PM   #7
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    An NTI may help if you are a big clencher at night. About 600 sounds right for that. I would not use this as a long term solution though as it doesn't really do anything to correct the problem...only helps the symptom (and may result in an open bite).

    If you are looking for a "phase I / phase II" dentist you would want to see a neuromuscular dentist. Make sure you do a lot of research in choosing one because you can find good and bad NMD's. Phase I treatment for neuromuscular dentistry will probably be around 2.5k-6k.

    If you go straight to braces, I have heard good things about damon braces. You will probably end up spending about 4k-5k for this.

    Last edited by saltyk9; 08-09-2011 at 04:38 PM.

     
    Old 08-09-2011, 07:54 PM   #8
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by saltyk9 View Post
    An NTI may help if you are a big clencher at night. About 600 sounds right for that. I would not use this as a long term solution though as it doesn't really do anything to correct the problem...only helps the symptom (and may result in an open bite).

    If you are looking for a "phase I / phase II" dentist you would want to see a neuromuscular dentist. Make sure you do a lot of research in choosing one because you can find good and bad NMD's. Phase I treatment for neuromuscular dentistry will probably be around 2.5k-6k.

    If you go straight to braces, I have heard good things about damon braces. You will probably end up spending about 4k-5k for this.
    Thanks for this. I've done a thorough search for neuromuscular dentist's in Winston-Salem and it appears theres a few at the Wake Health center... but I imagine that would be $$$$ since I only have student health and dental insurance, and neither cover TMJ issues.

    I guess I'll be going the braces route (after a few consultations, of course), and I'll have to find a dentist that'll do a payment plan outside of a credit-approved payment plan (I can't get CareCredit or Chase Health because I don't have any credit/don't have a co-signer). I believe I may have found one that would do that...

    Thanks!

     
    Old 08-11-2011, 05:57 AM   #9
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    Re: College student suffering from TMJ. Could someone point me in the right direction

    I agree with saltyk9, an NTI does not really do anything other than prevents you from grinding. But if you have decided to do braces fairly soon, than don't do NTI, since (more than likely) you will not be able to use it with braces. So it will be just wasted money.
    As a self ligating braces wearer, I can attest that self ligating braces (any brand) are smaller and neater as compared to the regular brakets. But, at the end of the day, that is the skills of your ortho that counts and not the type of brakets. So if you have found an ortho you trust, go with the type of brakets they recommend. Good luck to you!

     
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