Thursday, October 25, 2007

Diary of a TMJ Sufferer Part 5

Things went along just tickety-boo, until my splint started degrading. Suddenly, I had a gap between my front teeth. Yes, I was now in the league of David Letterman & Madonna. It was so large that a toothpick would fit in there.

I went to my dentist for a new splint. He gave me a hard one, {splint, boys & girls, a hard splint. Minds out of the gutter, now}, which required soaking in hot water before using. I hated it. I used to spit it out in the middle of the night. I’d find it on my pillow, on the floor, sometimes not for days. It was so uncomfortable. This was not working.

I gave up on the splint. I stopped using it at all. I asked for another one. It still wasn’t as good as the first, but I lived with it.

I gave up on my dentist. I started going to another one. Time passed.

The headaches started & wouldn’t leave. The muscles in my jaw, face, neck & upper back were tense all the time. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I’d been lifting weights with my face.

I’m now 35. I talked to my dentist about what’s happening, how it feels like my teeth don’t fit together properly. I’m constantly moving my jaw around while eating trying to find the right spot. What can we do? Do I need braces again? Hot damn, that was the best diet I was ever on. I hoped for the braces.

I was in luck, they had just started doing a new procedure to relax the muscles, fit patients with orthotics (neuromuscular mouth appliances) that correct their bite & make everything happy, happy, joy, joy. “Sign me up!” I said.

They hooked me up to an electric pulse machine with electrodes on my jaw joints, forehead, back of my neck, under my chin, & left to relax for ½ hour while the machine works at calming the muscles. A trendy wire basket is then placed on my head which is hooked up to a computer. I am instructed to move my jaw in all sorts of wonderful ways & the computer records the movement, along with measuring the stress on the muscles. My orthotic is then adjusted accordingly.

So, that’s where I’m at. The appliance is filling in the gap where my teeth have worn away from all the clenching. Now we’re considering more permanent options to the removable orthotic, mainly building up my teeth with veneers to fill the gap & correct the bite.

Sometimes I feel like it will never be over. Sometimes I feel like giving up. Sometimes I have a good day. The last while, I haven’t experienced many good days. There's tension, & pain, & slight dislocations again.

But I’m keeping the faith. I’m going to keep going until this is fixed. I’m going to keep at it until I no longer have to worry about dislocations & pain & knocking & tense muscles. I’m going to beat the monster. I’m going to be… hahahaha! I almost wrote I was going to be normal. We all know that will never happen.


french panic said...

loookeee heeere I'm about to give you some unasked for advice though I would guess maybe you have already ventured down this route:

massage therapy.

When I was in massage school, one of THE most painful experiences of my life was getting an intra-oral massage (oh, that does sound a little dirty, no?). We had to practice on each other, and gloves were worn, and I learned that some massage therapists actually specialize in TMJ treatment.

Especially since you mention that you clench ALL the time, and all your neck, face, shoulder etc muscles are suffering too (everything is connected, clich├ęd but true), get your jaw to a massage person! Though you do live in smalltown, prairie land, and I imagine your choice of alternative therapies practitioners are not so fabulous. And in my experience, both as a giver of massagers and receiver of them, most massage therapists hate giving face massages, never mind putting on the gloves and going to town. I fucking love getting my face massaged. Even just rubbing my own manibular parts feels good - I'm a clencher, too.

I am sorry for your jaw luck. Though that headgear in the photo is particularly fetching.

Anonymous said...

your twin will probably be falling suit!!

love yah

Wilma said...

Frenchie ~ we do have a massage therapist in town. Unfortunately, she is currently booking into February. Yes, she's that busy.

I have tried massage. I'm not sure yet whether I like it on my jaw or not. I remember disliking the way they moved things around, & feeling like my jaw wasn't quite in the place where it was supposed to be when they were finished.

I still think drugs are the answer. I need to get my hands on some Ativan.

Wilma said...

v - how is my twin? I think Puffy & I need to make a trip up there someday soon now that he's no longer working in Tuktiyuktuk.