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Jaw followup
mirror girl  Rockwell

So I finally saw a specialist today.  I had a bit of a "who's on first" issue with getting this appointment; I saw my general doc on Feb 1.  She found someone to recommend me to, name only.  Having googled the recommended doc I found four different phone numbers so I ended up calling one office, and being told to call a different office.  When I called office #2 I was told that she's no longer seeing TMJ patients.  That nurse then gave me two other specialist names and I picked one.  I had an appointment scheduled for last Wed, but had to reschedule when rehearsals moved earlier.  Today's appointment was at 8am (ugh, really early in my world).

My jaw has been fully stuck since Feb 12.  (Stuck = only minimal opening, one piece of bread is fine, a sandwich with two pieces is no go.)Interestingly that means the pain level has dropped, because I'm not able to move the joint very far.

Dr. A is really nice, and a little hippy-dippy (he teaches meditation at Stanford).  We went through the basic health history stuff and then he watched me move my jaw.  His first comment "Wow, you are not faking this, it's really stuck."  Heh.  He also checked my accupressure points.  I do officially have TMJ, and more specifically articular disk displacement.  Dr A described the disk as being the tires on a car going up and down a driveway.  Except, flip that upside down because the driveway would be the skull and the mandible is the car.  When your jaw opens it rotates a first distance with the disk providing cushioning and torque between the bones, and then the disk rotates on a different axis to open the jaw the rest of the way.  My disk (tire) is stuck on something and won't rotate past the first step.

Fixing it will be a slow process.  I'm getting a splint to wear all the time (except for eating) to open and relax the muscles at the back of my jaw, and then we'll work on gently getting the disk back into place.  If gentle doesn't work then we'll be firm.  I don't have an eta for better, but at least there's a plan.

I do wish the office took my insurance, instead they'll submit for you but demand payment up front.  So there goes my tax refund.  Whee!


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My TMJ was pretty bad at one point years ago, but my disk never slipped. Owwwww. I went through 2 or 3 night guards because, according to the oral surgeon, my teeth grinding was so hard it actually broke them.

I had to pay up front too. My insurance then didn't cover anything mouth-related unless it was strictly medical like a broken jaw. My dental didn't cover anything either.

My sister was the only person her doctor had seen who was able to break her night guards clean in half by the sheer strength of her jaw. Maybe he just hadn't seen enough patients yet...

Had I been smart enough to get this looked at when the right side was hurting all the time and occasionally clicking, say in December, it might not have gotten this bad. I'll be curious to see this splint which isn't just a night time device. I have a feeling I'm going to have to take it out to be understood over headset.

I'm hopeful that my medical insurance will cover some of it, but I know it won't be all of it. I hesitated over the cost of the splint briefly, but I would like to be able to eat carrots again.

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