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My TMJ is worse. Any suggestions?


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Hi Everyone,

I've had TMJ for at least ten years. It was mild and never really bothered me (fyi caution: caused by my chewing bubble gum every afternoon to deal w/ my sweet tooth).

Then one day about a month ago, I yawned too wide -- and my jaw locked for a second, it hurt -- and my TMJ went from mild to really, really annoying.

I tried to calm it down by only eating liquid-like foods for a little over two weeks. That helped a bit.

I'm starting to think I need to go to the same oral surgeon who removed my boys wisdom teeth.

Adding: I've worn a mouth guard at night for decades now.

I would love any and all advice. I'll try anything!

TIA!

Wendy

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A few things: make sure your mouth guard isn't soft. I chewed mine in my sleep and woke up several mornings unable to open my mouth wide enough to get it out.  I eventually had the surgery. I thought it was a mistake for a LONG time because it seemed worse. But, after a year and half, I realized that it was actually significantly better.  I still cannot open my mouth as wide as I was able to pre-TMJ problems, but I have no pain now. Good luck!

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, kristin0713 said:

Is your mouth guard from the store or made from an impression by a dentist?  A custom mouth guard made a huge difference for me.  The ones I bought from amazon, Walmart, etc. never helped much. 

I have a custom mouth guard. Now, the one I currently have was made easily seven or eight years ago. Do you think it would help if I got a new one? They're not cheap either. Although maybe they've come down in price?

9 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

Can you feel any swelling at the joint? Is there a lot of pain when you press it on either side? Have you tried holding ice packs on the area?

No swelling, no joint pain. I can try ice packs.

Edited by Alicia64
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4 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

I have a custom mouth guard. Now, the one I currently have was made easily seven or eight years ago. Do you think it would help if I got a new one? They're not cheap either. Although maybe they've come down in price?

No swelling, no joint pain. I can try ice packs.

I don’t know if the ice packs will help if you don’t have any joint pain or swelling.

What symptoms are you having?

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Try pushing your jaw forward and holding for a few seconds periodically throughout the day.  My dentist recommended this instead of getting a new mouth guard made and it really helped.

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It sounds like you might have partially dislocated your jaw.  That happened to me when a new dentist made me open my mouth way too far for way too long.  My whole bite changed—my front teeth would not meet any longer.  I couldn’t eat corn or apples.  Or take a bit of a sandwich.  It was also very painful.

I went to another dentist and got referred to an oral surgeon who recommend MAJOR surgery—grinding down a bunch of back teeth, and relocating some, and etc etc etc.  He also prescribed heavy pain killers.

I started taking the pain killers, and gradually everything subsided back to normal.  I think I was clenching up from the pain, which made it hurt worse, and the pain killers helped me relax.  Maybe there were muscle relaxers in the mix as well—I don’t recall.  Anyway, it became much more bearable and then gradually resolved over a period of about 5-6 months.  I was taking Vicodin at night and ibuprofen during the day, and I think maybe Flexeril at night also.

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48 minutes ago, lauraw4321 said:

A few things: make sure your mouth guard isn't soft. I chewed mine in my sleep and woke up several mornings unable to open my mouth wide enough to get it out.  I eventually had the surgery. I thought it was a mistake for a LONG time because it seemed worse. But, after a year and half, I realized that it was actually significantly better.  I still cannot open my mouth as wide as I was able to pre-TMJ problems, but I have no pain now. Good luck!

My mouth isn't soft enough to chew. But my dog one time thought it was wonderful. Had to buy a new one. I'll keep in mind that you had the surgery in case it comes to that. Thanks Laura!

41 minutes ago, Catwoman said:

I don’t know if the ice packs will help if you don’t have any joint pain or swelling.

What symptoms are you having?

My symptoms are that there's a major click when I chew or open my mouth at all. It used to be a minor click, now it's major. No pain though.

32 minutes ago, Danae said:

Try pushing your jaw forward and holding for a few seconds periodically throughout the day.  My dentist recommended this instead of getting a new mouth guard made and it really helped.

I am trying this as I type. And it does seem to help. Thank you!

18 minutes ago, Carol in Cal. said:

It sounds like you might have partially dislocated your jaw.  That happened to me when a new dentist made me open my mouth way too far for way too long.  My whole bite changed—my front teeth would not meet any longer.  I couldn’t eat corn or apples.  Or take a bit of a sandwich.  It was also very painful.

I went to another dentist and got referred to an oral surgeon who recommend MAJOR surgery—grinding down a bunch of back teeth, and relocating some, and etc etc etc.  He also prescribed heavy pain killers.

I started taking the pain killers, and gradually everything subsided back to normal.  I think I was clenching up from the pain, which made it hurt worse, and the pain killers helped me relax.  Maybe there were muscle relaxers in the mix as well—I don’t recall.  Anyway, it became much more bearable and then gradually resolved over a period of about 5-6 months.  I was taking Vicodin at night and ibuprofen during the day, and I think maybe Flexeril at night also.

Thank you Carol. This is great info. I don't have pain, just major clicking. I'm so sorry you went through that. How awful.

16 minutes ago, Terabith said:

The one time it was really bad for me, I had completely miraculous results from one dose of valium.  It relaxed the muscles enough to stop the cycle.

I'll try it!

5 minutes ago, Laurie said:

You might want to go to you tube and take a look at the TMJ videos by physical therapists Bob and Brad.   

Let's see if this link will work:

https://www.youtube.com/user/physicaltherapyvideo/search?query=tmj

I hope you find something that helps!  

 

I'll definitely watch these! Thank you!

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Posted (edited)

Oldest DD went to physical therapy for a while to work on her TMJ (she'd gotten to a point where she couldn't open her mouth but a little). 

Some of the things the PT had her do: posture and back strengthening exercises using a stretchy band. Also massaging from her temple down to her jaw. Also, laying flat on your back, pulling the face/head back toward the floor (like making a double chin). 

ETA: DD's issue is muscular, not skeletal. She went to the local medical university's oral/craniofacial school to be dx. 

Edited by alisoncooks
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At one point I found massage helped, but I just  lucked into finding someone whose massage technique really helped.   

I also had a time period where I had to wear my mouth guard during the day as much as possible, in addition to when sleeping--especially if I was doing something like driving where I was possibly clenching my teeth.  

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2 hours ago, Alicia64 said:

Hi Everyone,

I've had TMJ for at least ten years. It was mild and never really bothered me (fyi caution: caused by my chewing bubble gum every afternoon to deal w/ my sweet tooth).

Then one day about a month ago, I yawned too wide -- and my jaw locked for a second, it hurt -- and my TMJ went from mild to really, really annoying.

I tried to calm it down by only eating liquid-like foods for a little over two weeks. That helped a bit.

I'm starting to think I need to go to the same oral surgeon who removed my boys wisdom teeth.

Adding: I've worn a mouth guard at night for decades now.

I would love any and all advice. I'll try anything!

TIA!

Wendy

If you’ve had the same night guard for a while, then it’s likely time for a new one. I get a new one about every 3-4 years because my symptoms get much more noticeable when the device wears out (is worn down). I can’t tell from looking at the night guard but my symptoms tell me it’s time. 
 

good luck

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2 hours ago, alisoncooks said:

Oldest DD went to physical therapy for a while to work on her TMJ (she'd gotten to a point where she couldn't open her mouth but a little). 

Some of the things the PT had her do: posture and back strengthening exercises using a stretchy band. Also massaging from her temple down to her jaw. Also, laying flat on your back, pulling the face/head back toward the floor (like making a double chin). 

ETA: DD's issue is muscular, not skeletal. She went to the local medical university's oral/craniofacial school to be dx. 

Don't you guys live in a suburb of Atlanta? I'm in Suwanee. Where did you daughter get dx? And thanks!

1 hour ago, East Coast Sue said:

If you’ve had the same night guard for a while, then it’s likely time for a new one. I get a new one about every 3-4 years because my symptoms get much more noticeable when the device wears out (is worn down). I can’t tell from looking at the night guard but my symptoms tell me it’s time. 
 

good luck

You're probably right. How much was yours out of pocket. I remember a bill being like $500 but maybe our dental ins. wasn't good back then. I can't remember.

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Posted (edited)

My husband has TMJ.  For him — it is known is it related to sleep apnea and anxiety.  The sleep apnea for him is also probably related to anxiety (as he is normal weight basically).  
 

There can be a syndrome with TMJ, sleep apnea, and anxiety.  For my husband it is really TMJ, sleep apnea, and PTSD.

When it is acting up, his jaw will click and lock up. 
 

For him, since it is downstream of PTSD, anxiety medication has helped a huge, huge amount, and so has treating sleep apnea with a CPAP.

 

Well, it turns out his sleep apnea is also significantly better since he has started anxiety medicine, and he does not have to use the CPAP every night, he can take some nights off.


He grinds his teeth noticeably less when he uses the CPAP, also.  He does also have a mouth guard.  
 

Anyway — he does not primarily have TMJ, he has it as part of this PTSD syndrome.  So the treatment of PTSD/anxiety is what has helped him the most and what is recommended for him.  
 

Still if it is stress-related then I think that addressing stress  is something that could only help, even if it is not only or primarily stress related.  
 

Edit:  his jaw also pops in and out of joint sometimes, but that is less of an issue lately, and IMO for him it is very related to stress.  He will get very tense, his back acts up, his jaw acts up, the sleep apnea is worse, etc, it all goes together.

When his jaw pops it will stay out of joint for a couple of days, and then pop back in, he hates having it out of joint, but it has never lasted too long, and it is massively better with anxiety medicine for him.  I don’t think he has had it happen since starting anxiety medicine.  

Edited by Lecka
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Posted (edited)

My husband is also going to a chiropractor once a month right now for preventive care, and I do think that helps, since for him it is all kind-of one thing (syndrome).  
 

It’s apparently a known thing with PTSD and he got referrals for everything to go together.  
 

Edit:  he does also have issues with his back

Edited by Lecka
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4 hours ago, Melissa Louise said:

Physiotherapy. 

DD had TMJ so severe we had to take her to the ED, and even Endone couldn't touch it. 2 x physio sessions, with home exercises, and she was all good. 

 

Wow! That's amazing! I'm so glad it worked for her!

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My TMJ issues have been severe. They wanted to do surgery...put me I a mouth guard 24/7 for 2 years....braces for 2 years.  I forget all what.

I educated myself and I am I nuch better now 15 years later.  
 

I retrained myself to not put my hands under my face when I sleep.  Put a pillow in between.

I learned to never put my hand under my chin.

I learned the ‘plum’ exercise....mouth the word plum to yourself. Done over and over, slowly, your muscles learn to relax.

I learned to recognize when I was ‘setting my jaw’ and stop that.  

I learned I do not grind. 

I took muscle relaxers for a while. I still do when needed.

I learned there is a specialized massage that helps.  It feels freaky but it works.,it releases the muscles that freeze up.  
 

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7 hours ago, Scarlett said:

My TMJ issues have been severe. They wanted to do surgery...put me I a mouth guard 24/7 for 2 years....braces for 2 years.  I forget all what.

I educated myself and I am I nuch better now 15 years later.  
 

I retrained myself to not put my hands under my face when I sleep.  Put a pillow in between.

I learned to never put my hand under my chin.

I learned the ‘plum’ exercise....mouth the word plum to yourself. Done over and over, slowly, your muscles learn to relax.

I learned to recognize when I was ‘setting my jaw’ and stop that.  

I learned I do not grind. 

I took muscle relaxers for a while. I still do when needed.

I learned there is a specialized massage that helps.  It feels freaky but it works.,it releases the muscles that freeze up.  
 

Do you have more info about this? My dd has TMJ likely due to a palette expander when she was a teen. I'm passing this info on to her. The dentist was of no help.

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5 hours ago, wilrunner said:

Do you have more info about this? My dd has TMJ likely due to a palette expander when she was a teen. I'm passing this info on to her. The dentist was of no help.

Check with the chiropractor to see if she/he is TMJ certified or trained.  They basically put their finger (gloved) in your mouth and run it along the jaw muscles.  

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Also, the dentist taught me to reset my own jaw by opening and then closing with your top and bottom front teeth touching.  

I would say you definitely need some muscle relaxers if your are so bad you can't open your mouth.

 I am not clear on if you are still chewing gum.  If so, don't do it anymore.  

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10 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

Also, the dentist taught me to reset my own jaw by opening and then closing with your top and bottom front teeth touching.  

I would say you definitely need some muscle relaxers if your are so bad you can't open your mouth.

 I am not clear on if you are still chewing gum.  If so, don't do it anymore.  

LOL. I haven't gone within a mile of gum in the last eight or so years!!

I'm trying the technique you describe. Did the dentist say to do this two times a day? Ten? And for how long?

And thank you!

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7 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

LOL. I haven't gone within a mile of gum in the last eight or so years!!

I'm trying the technique you describe. Did the dentist say to do this two times a day? Ten? And for how long?

And thank you!

It has been so long I don't remember what he said.  Of course don't open too wide which is what causes the problem to start with.  I do remember it was not a long 'hold' time.  But I do think I did it several times a day when I was at my worst.  Along with all the other things I mentioned.  I was determined to avoid surgery.

Also, stress always made it worse.  My XH was my stress....I remember one time when it locked up so back at a restaurant I could not eat. 

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4 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

It has been so long I don't remember what he said.  Of course don't open too wide which is what causes the problem to start with.  I do remember it was not a long 'hold' time.  But I do think I did it several times a day when I was at my worst.  Along with all the other things I mentioned.  I was determined to avoid surgery.

Also, stress always made it worse.  My XH was my stress....I remember one time when it locked up so back at a restaurant I could not eat. 

Thank you -- this is great info!

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23 hours ago, Alicia64 said:

Don't you guys live in a suburb of Atlanta? I'm in Suwanee. Where did you daughter get dx? And thanks!

You're probably right. How much was yours out of pocket. I remember a bill being like $500 but maybe our dental ins. wasn't good back then. I can't remember.

It’s expensive, I think I paid $350-$400 after insurance. It’s worth it because I can not survive without it. I get it replaced every few years. I sure hope you’re able to find solutions that work for you. 

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On 5/26/2021 at 12:30 PM, Terabith said:

The one time it was really bad for me, I had completely miraculous results from one dose of valium.  It relaxed the muscles enough to stop the cycle.

Yup. 

Or if you don't have any kind of muscle relaxant on hand, having a few drinks can work wonders. I'm not kidding - booze is the poor man's muscle relaxant - thre is a reason a lot of laborers have a beer or two after a hard day's work. When mine was bad I'd have say, two drinks before bed and it would help a ton. 

Also, check your pillow - if I accidentally use one that is too high/firm it acts up. 

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May not help your acute problem, but I find that when I am low on sleep, it is really a problem.  The reaction from low sleep is similar to when I’ve eaten steak or bagels a few days in a row.

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Posted (edited)

Three times in the past 5-10 years I have yawned too wide and my jaw dislocated on the right side.  I felt something quickly move out of place and get stuck, and then I couldn't close my mouth all the way or touch my teeth together.  It is very painful when it happens, and then super uncomfortable until it slides back into place.  The first time it happened I went to the ER, and the jerk doctor told me that no my jaw wasn't dislocated - even though I obviously couldn't close it.  I argued with him until he went to look at his medical books/websites, and he came back to say there is a very small disk in the joint that probably slid out of place.  He prescribed me Valium - a muscle relaxer - to take at bedtime, and it slid back into place while I was sleeping. 

Due to some other symptoms, subluxing joints as a child, unusual flexibility for an out of shape person my age, and recently POP, I think it might all be related to EDS, although I haven't been diagnosed.

Edited by Amy in NH
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13 minutes ago, Amy in NH said:

Three times in the past 5-10 years I have yawned too wide and my jaw dislocated on the right side.  I felt something quickly move out of place and get stuck, and then I couldn't close my mouth all the way or touch my teeth together.  It is very painful when it happens, and then super uncomfortable until it slides back into place.  The first time it happened I went to the ER, and the jerk doctor told me that no my jaw wasn't dislocated - even though I obviously couldn't close it.  I argued with him until he went to look at his medical books/websites, and he came back to say there is a very small disk in the joint that probably slid out of place.  He prescribed me Valium - a muscle relaxer - to take at bedtime, and it slid back into place while I was sleeping. 

Due to some other symptoms, subluxing joints as a child, unusual flexibility for an out of shape person my age, and recently POP, I think it might all be related to EDS, although I haven't been diagnosed.

You are describing exactly what happened to me when I yawned. But I didn't have the pain. I'm sorry about the EDS. I know that's not fun. ♥

 

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It’s weird but when my jaw has locked, I’ve gone onto all fours (like crawling) and moved my head into a position in which gravity helped it release and slide back into place. Of course, it’s extremely tender afterwards (soft diet required) and I’ve need to get a new nightguard when it wears out.  

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