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Arthritis in the jaw.. and I'm only 21

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Old 05-20-2011, 05:33 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2011
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 3
kaypfro HB User
Arthritis in the jaw.. and I'm only 21

Hi there,
I'm new to this site and really hoping that I can find some helpful feedback about my extremely odd case of arthritis.. in my jaw. And only in my jaw.

My jaw used to pop and crack, then it was just an achey pain, and now it is just a nuisance because the arthritis has resulted in me having an open bite (which I did not have 5 years ago when I was 16).

I've been to an oral surgeon who took an x-ray of my jaw, and there is significant deterioration in my temporomandibular joint since my last x-ray (which was taken when I was 16). The deterioration of my joint has resulted in me having an open bite. My oral surgeon says that surgery at this point is inevitable at some point in my life, but I am only 21! I have no other joint problems anywhere in my body except my jaw.

I was just hoping that someone might have this same condition or knows anything about it. I have been researching jaw arthritis and have found that it is extremely rare to have it only in the jaw, especially at such a young age. Also, if there is anyone who knows of a specialized doctor that I should see, please respond!

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Old 05-21-2011, 05:55 PM   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: FL
Posts: 185
navymid HB Usernavymid HB Usernavymid HB Usernavymid HB Usernavymid HB User
Re: Arthritis in the jaw.. and I'm only 21

Hi! I am sorry to hear about your joint problems. I too am young (23) and began having TMJ problems when I was 18. My problems were due to an injury, which has caused significant arthritic problems in my joints. My TMJs are the only places in which I have joint problems too. I am very healthy minus the jaw problems. My jaw problems have developed my bite into an open bite too.
I have had 7 surgeries so far and am awaiting a TMJR, maxilla, and bilateral sagital split osteotomy to fix these problems.
Are you in pain? How about function? Can you chew? I would hesitate to have surgery if you can still function and are not in significant pain.

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Old 05-22-2011, 12:51 PM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Austin
Posts: 95
PatientZero HB UserPatientZero HB UserPatientZero HB User
Re: Arthritis in the jaw.. and I'm only 21


Yes arthritis at your age is very rare but can happen. Most likely it is Osteoarthritis that you have. Osteoarthritis is caused by 'wear and tear' on a joint and it is also the most common.

I too have osteoarthritis. My left TMJ disc is almost gone. I too was told that at 48 it was very rare to have osteoarthritis in my jaw. I too was told that I will need surgery someday.

My pain level is a (1) on a scale of (1-10), and it is not consistent.
I have almost No TMJ disorder symptoms.
I can chew without pain. (soft foods not peanuts)
My ROM (mouth opening) is 42mm.
I do have some jaw joint stiffness though.

My questions for you...

1. What is the level of your pain and is it consistent?
2. Do you have any TMJD symptoms? (headaches, stiff neck, dizziness etc...)
3. What is your ROM?
4. Can you chew? Is there pain when you chew?
5. Do you have jaw joint stiffness?

Also get an MRI so that you know the exact condition and placement of your joints. You can also take the MRI around to different doctors for more opinions.

I was told by one surgeon here in Texas that I needed surgery. Then I took my MRI to other doctors (including Dr. Warburton and Dr. Grace from the Univ of Maryland Dental School. These guys are some of the best in the field of TMJ disorder.

They both said that my jaw joints where in bad shape, BUT since I have almost no pain or symptoms that they would NOT recommend surgery at this time. They want to monitor my condition and see if it gets worse.

I hope some of this helps! Don't be afraid to ask more questions.


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kaypfro (05-23-2011)
Old 05-23-2011, 08:55 AM   #4
Join Date: May 2011
Location: CT, USA
Posts: 3
kaypfro HB User
Re: Arthritis in the jaw.. and I'm only 21

Thanks so much for the responses!

To answer some of your questions:
1. My jaw used to ache and I would get a severe sharp pain when I chewed anything tough like steak or bagels, but for the past year I have been on a medicine called sulfasalazine which has helped the pain. However it has not helped the structure deterioration, so my doctor now wants me to switch to embrel. Is anyone familiar with this drug, or used it?

2. As far as function goes, I can still chew and open my mouth wide enough to eat most food. The main problem is with my open bite. Because my front teeth don't close all the way, I have a problem tearing food. Also any food that is thin, like slices of pizza, I have to cut up because I cannot tear it apart. Also, my jaw pops and cracks whenever I chew anything.

3. Other symptoms are occasional headaches but nothing severe. For the most part it is just discomfort but the pain has subsided since being on sulfasalazine.

My main concern is that my bone is just going to keep withering away. Since 2006 the bone has deteriorated a good 40-50% both width and lengthwise.

Other than surgery, what medications or treatments have you been given for your conditions? And have they been successful?

Old 06-01-2011, 08:44 AM   #5
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Austin
Posts: 95
PatientZero HB UserPatientZero HB UserPatientZero HB User
Re: Arthritis in the jaw.. and I'm only 21

Very good and tough questions....

Most people with TMD go for treatments because of the PAIN and the bad symptoms. What is your pain level WITHOUT the meds?

If your main concern is the bone loss I would see a rheumatologist. They are experts with people with conditions and diseases affecting joints, muscles, and bones. I have to see one too because of my arthritis.

I would also still get an MRI. X-rays, CAT scans can not pick up the fine detail of the soft tissue.

I take Aleve if I have any pain. I take Xanax for the stress and anxiety. I wear a stabilization splint (hard acrylic mouth guard) at night on my top teeth to prevent grinding and to relax my jaw joints. I only chew soft foods, and I never tear food with my teeth. I also drink lots of water, good for the joints and take vitamins for people that have arthritis and joint issues.

I can't say if the stuff I'm doing is making any difference but since I have almost no pain or symptoms it's not making it worse.

I too am concerned with what is happening to my jaw joints and bone loss but I am going to use my MRI and X-rays as a gauge to see how things are progressing. I also have to wait to see the rheumatologist. I'll let you know what he says....

For now think positive! Go on vacation and try not to think of TMD so much. I know it is hard but you have to. You control your life not your jaw!!!

Keep me posted...


Old 03-17-2012, 08:24 AM   #6
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: india
Posts: 3
yashsingh HB User
Re: Arthritis in the jaw.. and I'm only 21

even i am having the same problem.....the thingh is i am just 15 and i have a habit of grinding my teeth! doctor has given me a course of 7 injections!

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