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Neuromuscular Dentistry - TMJ FAQ

Question:
I have had mouth drama for as long as I can remember, and I am only 22 and am in a profession where looks are vital (acting). To make a long story short, I will break this down so you can understand where my problem stems from. I had braces for three years (3rd through 6th grade) was in a few very bad car accidents when I was younger, my sophomore year of college I noticed my jaw hurt considerably....popping, locking (open and closed, etc.)

Local dentist told me I had TMJ, made me a stint to sit on my lower teeth, it looked like I had a mouthful of chew in my mouth --- incredibly ugly and cost 1000 dollars. I wore it for two years, didn't help, visited a chiropractor for a year, helped some, not much. Decided to move from Nebraska to California (where I now reside), in January of 2002, before I left I visted a TMJ specialist who told me I had a stem of TMJ.

In California I found a new dentist because I had an incredible amount of pain in my mouth. He said the only teeth that were hitting were my back two molars and they were very cracked. My jaw was very much out of alignment, so he filed my back two teeth down. The only teeth that don't touch now are the eight teeth up front. I am visiting my parents in NE, recently went to my mothers dentist, had a full x-ray. I found out I have twelve cavities. Much, much mouth drama.

My concern is that since I have no normal overbite or underbite (my front teeth practically sit on top of one another) well, how do I fix this, or is it unfixable, and is that what makes my TMJ symptoms worse? Does it cause speech impediments? I have been looking at all my frients and families teeth and they all sit nicely, one in back of the other.

How can I set my teeth to where they are supposed to be? Oh, and the stint that was made for me was the type you are not supposed to wear for a long time otherwise it throws your jaw out of alignment--lucky me. Hope you can help! : ) I just feel like this will set me back in my career.

Answer:
Your concerns sound complex and would require a dentist who is trained to evaluate your whole oral condition (joints, muscles, teeth, bite, decay, gums, etc.).

To do this properly, you will need to have the most recent x-rays handy, and have a complete diagnostic records appointment which will involve study models, photographs, special mounting of models on a machine to analyze your bite.

There are a number of very qualified dentists who have this level of training. Certainly a good place to start is with a referral to a "prosthodontist" in your area - someone who is a specialist in rebuilding teeth and dealing with joint problems. In a nut shell, you need to have a comprehensive evaluation done to address the bite, decay and joint. Hope this has helped.

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