I have been suffering from TMJ for a few years, but it has become so painful that its time I do something about it, the problem is, I don't know where to go from here.

I initially saw a dentist. He wants to make a splint, but can't guarantee it will fix the problem (obviously.)

Next, I went to a TMJ specialist who suggested this $5000 treatment plan of placing a device of some kind on the side of my tooth, and going through this 14 week plan.

Lastly, I went to an orthodontist who said my teeth were misaligned on one side and recommended braces. He said the misalignment may or may not be related to the tmj.

I just don't know how to proceed from here. I have headaches probably 2-3 day a week, severe popping, neck and shoulder pain...I have to do something, but I'm getting so many different suggestions, I dont know how to handle it.

I feel like the braces is the way to go...fix the alignment of the teeth and that will fix the joint. But perhaps its the other way around...can I just fix the joint problem with the splint?

Anyone been through this and can recommend how to proceed? Should I start most conservatively? Any suggestions?

Thanks!
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First Helper catswold
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replied April 19th, 2008
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Almost 30 years ago I went thru a similar situation to what you are facing now. The only difference is that splint therapy wasn't recommended to me by anyone until after the braces were already on. TMJ treatment has come a long ways, but yet, is still not adequate. If your bite is off, logically braces sound the way to go. That's what I did but my pain was never addressed so I lived in he** for 3 years (more really). And then my bite was still off. It was a chiropractor who performed intra-oral massage on me that finally broke up the 24/7 pain.

So, my recommendation to anyone who is in constant life-altering pain is to address the pain FIRST.

1. Physical or massage therapy (even chiropractics even tho I'm not comfortable with one who wants to "crack,")
2. Relaxation methods of any sort (hot tub, yoga, therapy),
3. Medications (muscle relaxants and/or anti-anxiety drugs and even anti-depressants). Don't be like me and think just because I was strong I wouldn't take any pain meds except Tylenol. So stupid of me. And, as I discovered years later, it's also hard to find a doctor who will treat TMJ pain with meds, but they are out there.
4. Be very diligent to what you eat - softer/liquid foods, NO caffeine, cut back on sugar, NO smoking, NO gum or ice chewing, take certain vitamins (Multiple Vitamin, Super Vitamin B Complex, Magnesium, and some people like Glucosamine).

There is more, but this is a starter. I don't know what the 2nd TMJ "specialist" was suggesting with "placing a device of some kind on the side of my tooth." It almost sounds like Functional Joint Orthodics. Did he mention 3 phases to the treatment?

I personally would hold off on the braces but would get a bite splint IF you are grinding or clenching your teeth. A splint will protect your teeth, balance your bite and relieve some pressure on the joint joints IF it is made well and adjusted frequently at first and then tapers off. See if you can get more info from the $5000 plan. Don't hesitate to go to 2 or 3 more TMJ "specialists" to get their opinions.

Hang in there. Have your doctor refer you to physical therapy for your neck, shoulders, TMJ and headaches. It can give almost instant relief of pain if the therapist is a good one. Don't just go for TMJ as most insurance co's won't cover it, but if the other problems are mentioned first, you can sneak it in usually.

I pray that you will find the help you need, especially relief of pain.
God bless...
Carol
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