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Novocaine injection affecting TMJ?
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Questions in the Dental Health forum are answered by Dr. Jerome Tsang. Topics covered include bridges, cavities, crowns, and x-rays.

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Novocaine injection affecting TMJ?

I've had TMJ for awhile, ever since I got my braces taken off 3 1/2 years ago. It's pretty much gone away, I don't have my jaw click much anymore when I eat (except for steak), I just have to adjust it when I wake up, or if I keep it in the same position for too long. In other words, it doesn't bother me much, it's manageable.

But I went in to the dentist's today to get a filling, and right after the initial injection, my jaw didn't feel like it was sitting right. The dentist checked it out, he said my teeth were aligned and that it was probably nothing. But it still felt like my jaw was too far over (or something similar, it's hard to explain) and that I needed to adjust it, but I couldn't. I just ignored it and relied on what the dentist said.

But now it's 6 hours later, the novocaine's long worn off, and my jaw is killing me. I can't open my mouth more than a inch (if I try really, really hard) without there being an amazing amount of pain. My jaw hasn't been this bad in years, since I had my braces on.

I understand that I should probably wait before I jump to "something's wrong," but..... something's wrong. Should I go back to the dentist? Should I wait it out? How long will it take to go back to normal (last time it was this bad it took a month)? Did the novocaine injection cause it? But most importantly, what's wrong, and is there anything that could have prevented it?
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It may be due to the trauma from the injection in the muscles of the area.  Its a possible complication from a dental injection but rarely occurs.  The term is called trismus.

Try using a warm saline rinse to help with the pain as well as taking some anti-inflammatories such as aspirin or ibuprofen.  Also apply a warm moist towel on the area for 20 minutes every hour if necessary.  Also remember to try to stretch the jaw joint out each day (such as chewing gum) for 5 minutes every 3 to 4 hours.

If you don't get any improvement in 48 hours, contact your dentist to get a prescription for antibiotics as it may be a possible infection.  Keep up the maintenance until you are problem free.  It may take anywhere from 4 to 20 weeks but of course, should gradually improve over time.

Hope that helps.
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Jerome Tsang, DDSBlank
Irvine Modern Dentistry
Irvine, CA
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