I have TMJ - will routine dental work make it worse?
I was diagnosed with TMJ about 2 years ago. Shortly after that... I had my wisdom teeth pulled and for months after that I could barely open my jaw and was in extreme pain. Since then it settled down & the tmj was bearable. Now I have been having some issues and was told I need a good cleaning by the dentist (i have major tarter buildup) and i need xrays as there are many visible cavities in my molars. I am afraid to have the cleaning done & the cavities filled as im afraid it will make my tmj worse! I had a tooth break last week and had to have the cavity emergency filled and ever since my jaw/throat/face/ears... everything hurts and is stiff! Any suggestions/help?!?
I've had jaw problems since 16, 4 surgeries, etc. so this is what I do.
Tell the dentist or dental cleaner that you have TMJ and that you will need frequent breaks to relax your jaw. If you feel them getting sore, start making noises, put your hand up, whatever it takes to get her/him to stop. Then gently open and close your mouth a few times, wiggle the jaws, and then continue. It helps. I would also inquire about splitting it into two appointments.
Also if you can don't schedule all the fillings at once. Go back a couple of times. It takes longer but will be easier on the joints.
The other thing I suggest is going to the doctor and getting a presciption for an anti-anxiety medication like Ativan. This will help you relax. Because a big part of the problem is you anticipate the pain, so you tighten up, and then they push against tightened muscles. Also take a pain killer, Aleve or Advil are good ones because they help with swelling, before you go. Similar to the anti-anxiety medication it will help keep the jaw loose. The looser you can keep your jaw the less it is going to hurt.
As well during the procedure as you feel yourself start to tense, repeat to yourself. "relax" take a breath in through your nose, and let it out slowly.
When you get home quickly apply ice, then heat. If you sew the ends of two men's sports socks together you can put a heating/ice pack on each side and then tie the socks on top of your head. This looks ridiculous, like you have bunny ears, but it works. You can buy gel hot/cold packs to put in each side.
If you live in Canada you can buy tylenol with codeine (8mg) over the counter. I'd be tempted to take a couple. The whole goal in all of this is to get your joints as relaxed as possible as soon as possible. The more time you are tense - more its going hurt.
Unfortunately - chances are its going to hurt. But its gotta be done. It shouldn't be as bad as wisdom teeth. They really have to yank at the jaw to get those out.
Depending on medical coverage you may also want to go see a physiotherapist. They can do things like ultrasound on the joint to ease the pain.
Another thing you may want to ask for is diclofenac cream. If you rub that just in front and just behind your ears it helps with jaw joint pain. It is an NSAID, but since it is going directly to the spot though the skin, verses having to go through the stomach and body it works more quickly and I think better. It is a bit goopy though.
You ABSOLUTELY have to tell your dentist your entire history of your tmj and how much pain it brought you! Suggest to him that during procedures he can work on you for five minutes and let you close your mouth and relax your jaw for five minutes. I had the same thing happen to me with the removal of my wisdom teeth, I'm 21 now and I sure aint going back to that pain, and your not either! Be safe and annoying, not sorry! :)
Thank you both for your replies and for all of your suggestions lindahand!
Well I had my cleaning done yesterday... the cleaning went fairly fast and wasnt as painful as i expected... but i nearly fainted when the dentist read my Xrays!! i have 21 total cavities!!! most are between my teeth. I dont think my jaw can handle getting TWENTY ONE cavities filled! i have been in tears or on the verge of tears since they told me! I have noooo idea how to get thru this without making my daily jaw pain soo much worse! not to mention... having that many cavities filled is probably going to change my bite which doesn't help tmj either! Ugh my head hurts today!! :(
The fillings shouldn't change the bite if they are done properly. I would be tempted to get a second opinion just to make sure you really do have 24 cavities that need to be filled. That does seem like an awful lot.
You'll get through it. It will be tough, but you can do it. Just have the painkillers and muscle relaxants handy. I am sorry you have to go through this.
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