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Neuromuscular Dentistry - TMJ FAQ

  • I have been having headaches and tooth pain associated with my two farthest back upper teeth on the left side. 9 years ago the tooth in front of them was pulled due to a half finished root canal that was started just before I left the army. The two teeth are now shifting on my jaw. They are angled outward, and the gums are swolen. What is the cause for their shifting like that? What is the best course for solving the problem?    (answer)

  • Whenever I open my jaw there is a popping noise on both sides, just below my ear lobes. I read somewhere that this has something to do with the jaw not being aligned properly. Is this critical to be corrected? What will happen if left untreated? What is the treatment? Is it common? What causes it? Does it have anything to do with having teeth pulled? ...Pam in Maryland     (answer)

  • I have been experiencing a stiff neck and some back pain for some time now. I went to the Dr. for back pain and he did a x-ray and ended up doing a MRI. It all came back okay. My pain is worse and the neck is getting more stiff and spreading into my shoulder. Most recently I have had pulses of pain on my lower jaw from an apparent tooth problem. I'm wondering can this be an abcessed tooth that is causeing me to feel bad and to have the stiff neck and back pain. ...Marv in Kansas     (answer)

  • I have been diagnosed with TMJ. I am wondering if having braces put back on will help. This is the way I would like to go. I wore braces for almost three years when I was a freshman through a junior in highschool, but my orthodontist took them off early because (he was trying to be nice) he figured it was good. I only wore rubberbands for a month and I needed to have worn them for at least 4. What should I do? I would really like to have my braces put back on not only to fix the TMJ but to also make my teeth a little straighter and my bite look better. Thanks for your help, Kristin     (answer)

  • 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)

  • I suffered tmj from whiplash its been about four months. When I put my finger next to my ear and I open and close my mouth I feel a bump coming and going. It feels dislocated. I open my mouth and I have a bump that is hard sticking out of my skin next to my ear. Its been 4 months. It constantly gets worse. What should I have done and what is the bump? Is it dislocated? What treatment is best? ...Emaad in California     (answer)

  • Yesterday I started to eat oatmeal and it became very difficult because I could not press my teeth together to chew, so I had to chew from the tip of my mouth instead of from the side. Earlier that day I had a huge burrito and I think I might have opened my mouth to wide. Well I thought I could shake it off but it is the next day and it is still hard to eat. I also cannot open my mouth wide enough to eat certain foods and the right side is in minor pain. My mouth plates are also off, the bottom plate seems to be forcing its self to the left. What do you think is wrong and what can I do? ...Melanie in California     (answer)

  • I have intermitant shooting pain in my left ear and also sorness in my cheek and the gum on the top of my left side of my mouth for two days. I went to the doctor after the first day and I am on zithromax antibiotics for 5 days. Could this be related to a abcess in the gums, although I dont have teeth in the pained area?     (answer)

  • A year ago I was diagnosed with TMJ after being treated for everything from a sinus infection to an ear infection. With the TMJ I have horrible headaches that sometimes will not allow me to perform my job. I have been to an oral surgeon, and he removed all of my wisdom teeth and we waited to see if the problem got better, it didnt, actually it feels as if it got worse. This particular oral surgeon recommended a procedure, but stated that he could not do it because he does not have the faciities, so he sent me to a well known oral surgeon in Atlanta. This particular doctor told me that TMJ does not cause headaches and that I should see someone about braces to solve my problem, so of course I returned to my oral surgeon in my town and he stated that I did not need braces. My question is, what type of doctor is best trained to treat my problem? It seems like I am running around in circles trying to get the proper care. I have been suffering from this for at least a year now, I would simply appreciate some advice that could possibly lead me in the right direction to treating my problem.     (answer)

  • My jaw has been locking up off and on for the past two weeks and on Saturday morning it locked up and hasn't unlocked since. Right now it's Sunday. It will only open about 1/2 of an inch. I can barely brush my teeth and my breath is starting to smell. I can barely eat and it takes about an hour to eat a burrito. I don't have pain - I just can't open my mouth. Before I used to just relax my jaw, shift it to the side and that was it. But now that doesn't work. My mom doesn't think there is anything wrong with me but I know there is. My question is - How long should I wait to go to the doctor and am I going to have to have surgery? Visitor from California     (answer)

  • For the past four weeks I have been experiencing pain on the right side of my jaw which feels to be just under the opening to the ear canal. Often throughout the course of the day I have trouble and a sharp pain when I open my mouth. I also have pain when I have to chew tough foods on the right side. I have pain when I try to extent my lower front teeth past my upper front teeth trying to stretch or work out the pain. Ocassionally when I wake up in the morning and close my mouth it seems like my jaws are out of alignment. All of this is only on the top of the right side. What is this and what can be done about it? Should I see my MD or go right to a Dentist? ...Visitor from Ohio     (answer)

  • Everything was fine one week ago, I went to my dentist for a crown to be put on on my far back molar. Well he gave me three shots of novicane because the tooth just would not freeze (everything else did but the tooth). Well even after all the shots I felt most of the grinding. A week later I am in pain everyday from this. Before the visit I was not. My dentist blames it on TMJ that I have not had in about ten years. It is a pain sometimes on the tooth. But mostly it goes up in my cheek and down in my jaw. Where the two jaws meet it is inflammed. Before there was no, maybe little decay in this tooth for it is an old big filling. For the reason for the crown was for a gap not decay. Do you think this is an absessed tooth or TMJ? Visitor from Wisconsin     (answer)

  • I have had a stiff jaw for about 2 months. I don't have any pain while chewing. I dont have a problem opening my mouth wide. I just have a constant ache. I can't sleep at night. The pain gets worse as the day progresses. I do have a permanent retainer bonded on my bottom teeth. When I open my mouth I do hear a slight clicking but not always. I have had a full dental exam and nothing was out of the norm. I do have some neck pain/ache involved. I can't take this constant ache any more. I thought it may be TMJ but, I don't have the pain in opening my mouth wide. I don't have a problem chewing. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated. I did have braces when I was 26 they were on for about 2 years. It has been 10 years. I wear a retainer on my top which I remove in the morning. I can't explain this pain, it is a constant constant ache. Please help ... Visitor from Pennsylvania     (answer)

  • For the past two months I have been to the doctor 5 times. I thought I had ear and sinus infections. But none of the medicine seems to help. I recently started to notice that my jaw is extremely sore. Someone told me it is possibly TMJ, because I clench my teeth very bad at night. I also noticed that my neck and arms were very sore too. I felt like I couldn't extend my arms all the way out. Would this be a result of TMJ? Before I knew about TMJ I scheduled an appointment to go see an ENT because I thought I had bad ear problems. But I have came to the conclusion that I probably have TMJ (because all the symptoms I have fall into TMJ) and I was just wondering if I should keep my appointment with the ENT. Would an ENT be someone whom I should see about the TMJ problem? or should I probably cancel? ... Visitor from Alabama     (answer)

  • I was told over 3 years ago that I have tjm by my doctor. I was sent to a maxillofacial surgen about 2 years ago who said I would probably need surgery. I have had a mri and my disc is balled up and pushed forward. At that time I could still get two fingers in my mouth, now on a good day I can get my thumb in my mouth. He explained the surgery to me and said he would remove the disc and not put anything back in where the disc belongs. This is what worries me. So I put it off but I can't cope with it anymore. My problem is finding a doctor to do the surgery. There aren't very many in my area that specialize in this, I would prefer to have a doctor who does more than a couple of surgery's a year. So if I have to drive a couple of hours away thats fine. ...Visitor from Michigan     (answer)

  • About four months ago I happened to be reading and all of a sudden I developed this pain in my left eye, like a dull ache. The same goes for my left ear. For a few days it felt sore. I had my sinuses x-rayed and a series of blood work, had my eyes examined by the eye doctor. All the results came back negative. Also I felt this pain on left side on top of my head a numbness. It feels like something is pushing into my eye. Could it be my wisdom teeth? I know I have still two I haven't had removed. Also the pain is felt more when I move my jaw ...Visitor from Canada     (answer)

  • For the past year or so I have had problems with my jaw. It clicks continuously when opening my mouth and seems to be 'off balance'. It seems as though my teeth don't fit comfortably together anymore. However, the most stressful part is when it locks and I can only open it half an inch. I get increasingly panicked by the situation, and this is only worsened by the fact that I have a phobia about damage to bones. I have visited my doctor who sent me for a jaw x-ray, which didn't show anything, and he said it would probably just go away. The last time it locked I was distraught and went to the hospital's ER, but they didn't know what it was either. They said as it wasn't dislocated they couldn't help and sent me away. I am frustrated as I find the threat of locking as daunting as any serious injury and I find myself worrying all the time. My jaw has just locked this morning, as I woke up from a nap, and I am now a little distressed. I have found your TMJ site and am wondering if you have any advice for me. Obviously, I understand that you work in the US and as such have no experience of UK procedure, but I am wondering who you think I should approach next. I did happen to mention my jaw to the dentist I have just registered with and he didn't seem to have any recognition of my problem, like the doctor. Can you confirm that my suspicions are right about TMJ and that I am right to pursue this with a health care provider? Can you also advise whether you think this may have anything to do with wisdom teeth growth. This started about the same time for me as the lower right wisdom tooth started to come through. I look forward to hearing from you. ...Visitor from Norwich, England     (answer)

  • I am 22 years old. I just recently went to the ER for severe headaches, pain in the jaw area and for being nauseous. My doctor told me that I have TMJ and gave me medicine for it that is not helping. What I was wondering was if my being nauseous all of the time and literally getting sick could be caused by this TMJ??? I have been this way ever since I visited the emergency room 2 weeks ago!! Please help me with any information that you can. It would be greatly appreciated! ...Visitor from Arkansas     (answer)

  • I had my teeth cleaned 2 weeks ago, the next day both sides of my face and jaw all the way to the upper ear was extrememly sore, I could hardly open my mouth. it felt like the face bone was cracking when I talked or opened my mouth. I have my teeth cleaned every 3 months and never experienced anything like that. I called my dentist told the receptionist and she basically made an appt for 3 weeks, which was too long to wait and they didn't seem to be very concerened till today I still have pain on left side of my face and don't know why. (Could I got infected from unsanitized dental instruments?) Wisdom teeth were never pulled out and never bothered me, my last tooth came out 5-6 yrs ago at age of 36 or 37, I have silver fillings and some bone loss. I'm 42 now, could any of these cause the pain? ...Visitor from Burlington, Ontario, Canada     (answer)

  • I have been experiencing what I thought might be some type of lock-jaw but as I read all of the questions on your site about it, my case seems a lot less severe. It proabably happens about once a week and only for about 1 minute or less. My jaw just locks and I can't move it at all and if I try it seems as though it's resisting. I though that maybe it has something to do with a bad habit of slightly clenching my teeth when I do vigorous activity (such as exercise) but I'm not sure. It has been happening for at least a year and sometimes I will not get it for a month and sometimes it will happen twice a week. Should I be worried or seeking further advice? ...Visitor from Minnesota     (answer)

  • I had my bottom wisdom teeth removed 6 months ago - since then I have a terrible time with what is being diagnosed as TMJ. My biggest problem is not pain or limitation moving my jaw - it's that my ears feel like I'm always in an airplane and I hear humming in both of them most of the time. I have been on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories (Ibuprofen 600 - 3 times a day for 2 weeks), Prednisone, and muscle relaxers. Nothing seems to be helping - is there anything else I can do to alleviate this problem with my ears? I have been to a ear, nose, and throat specialist who said my ears are perfect - it's my jaw causing the ear problem. Any help would be most appreciated. ...Visitor from North Carolina     (answer)

  • My husband has been complaining with left lower jaw pain. Especially when touched and or when he tucks his chin to his neck. He complains of it being in one certain area. I am worried about him having TMJ or even worse lymph node cancer. He has been dipping snuff for ten years and has recently stopped, but I am afraid it's too late. What procedures should my husband follow?     (answer)

  • Last August I bit down on a frozen Payday (dumb) and heard a loud ripping sound with lots of pain. For weeks I couldn't close my jaw right and couldn't chew. It was swollen with lots of pain. I went to my dentist who said it sounded like I tore my tendon and to ice and heat it and to eat soft things. He said it would take 3 months to heal. Well its been 6 months and it still has pain, makes all kinds of noise and gets so I can't close it right for days and if I try to chew meat, it hurts and I just can't do it. Well I not sure who to go to for help. I feel if my jaw was wired shut for a while it would heal. But everyone I have contacted to ask what to do or where to go for help, just passes me on to someone else. ...Visitor from California     (answer)

  • Hi, I'm so glad I've found your web site! I am 28 years old and my top teeth sit out over my bottom teeth. My bottom teeth sit way back in my mouth. Some may call it Buck Teeth but my teeth at the top are normal. I also have a clicking jaw for the past few years. I've been to see an Orthodontist and the only recommendation I was given was to get my Jaw Broke! I decided to live with my problem unless it gave me any future discomfort. A week ago I started to get pain in my right jaw and when I open my mouth to much when I'm eating its painful! The right side of my face including my ear feels numb! I don't have any clicking now and was just wondering if this is TMJ? Should I get my jaw broken? ...Visitor from Northern Ireland, United Kingdom     (answer)

  • About 5 weeks ago I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed. Three weeks ago I had a follow-up visit to the surgeon and told him I was having slight pain in my lower left jaw. He said it was the muscle and I was grinding my teeth. The next week I had so much pain I could hardly stand it. I went back and got some antibiotics and muscle relaxant. Now two weeks later, nothing has changed except I can hardley open my mouth. It's getting worse by the day. I seem to be having some discharge (bad taste in mouth)that is yellow in color. Could the antibiotics not be strong enough? What would you suggest? I am allergic to pennicillin. I am realy scared about not being able to open my mouth. What can I do about it? Should I force it open? He said something about maybe having to go back in and cleaning out the area. How will they get my mouth open and will it cause further damage? ...Visitor from Missouri     (answer)

  • I had my wisdom teeth removed in 1998. Since then I have had problems with my jaw joint on the right side of my face. I did have tmj therapy for about 2 months. It did not seem to help. I then had a splint made which made my jaw much more sore the morning after I wore it. My main concern is my facial structure. The right side of my face is much smaller than the left. The skin appears to hang, and when I smile the muscles in my face don't seem to raise the skin in the same way, creating an abnormal crease on that side. In general, that side of my face appears to have aged much further than the left side, and I'm only 27. Has anyone else ever found the correlation between jaw trauma and facial and skin change. Can this be corrected? As an actress it depresses me to think that this may get in my way of success....Visitor from California     (answer)

  • Hi... For about 6 months now almost every day when I wake up especially in the morning my mouth is swollen with sticky white stuff. What can be causing this? I also have servere TMJ. Can this be from the TMJ? ....Visitor from Massachusetts     (answer)

  • I have been having pain in my mouth for about a year now. It started after I had all four wisdom teeth removed. It started in the upper last molar and progressed to the next,bottom and other side. In total now I have had 6 molars extracted. Ihave seen numerous dentists, endodentists, oral surgeons, a neurologist and a ears nose and throat specialist. I have just recently had a bone scan done and am waiting on the results.As of right now I am having pain in the area of my first extraction, high on my gum almost into my cheek. I do not have TMJ. I can taste a drainage from the area. The pain is not relieved by novacaine, dimmed but not gone. The pain is however relieved upon chewing. I am currently taking cephalexin. Any opinions of what is wrong with me? The majority of dentists I've seen said my teeth didn't look bad according to my x-ray. ....Visitor from Pennsylvania     (answer)

  • My jaw has always cracked, but lately it seems to be "locked". My face has been swollen and I have undereye dark circles, as well as extreme pain around the eyes. Is this a symptom of TMJ? I've never heard of eye pain associated with it before. ....Visitor from Michigan     (answer)

  • About 11 years ago I was involved in a bad relationship, my boyfriend at the time had punched me in the jaw and for a week I could not open my mouth. He has been out-of-the picture, but ever since then my jaw has been way off. It would always crack and pop everytime I open my mouth. Now, for about 3 weeks, my left side of my jaw has been extremely sore and painful. It has caused me a servere earache. My whole left side of my face is sore and aches. It is painful for me to chew anything. So, my question is, Who do I go to, to help me fix this problem? Would I go to my dentist or a facial specialist? Could you please help me find out how to stop this pain? ....Visitor from Ohio     (answer)

  • I had suffered from extreme ear aches, pressure and jaw clicking for over a year until my doctor had diagnosed me with TMJ. I went to an orthodontist and decided to have braces put on. During this time I would have jaw pain and "noises". I decribed it to my dentist as if my jaw was making a sliding noise. He listened to my jaw with some device and told me that if it continued that we may have to take the braces off. Anyway I continue to wear braces for 3 years. I had the braces taken of last October. Everything seemed to be fine until March 1st. I woke up feeling a little "brain fog" and had this pulsating or hissing noise in my right ear only. It was not a constant noise just if I bent over or moved my neck in a certain direction. I went to the doctors and he said it was ETD due to the TMJ. He said that my ear was retracted and that was caused by ETD. Anyway, I have been dealing with this for the past 10 months and was wondering if you have any suggestions. I have tried zyrtec and allegra D which did help a little. ....Visitor from Ohio     (answer)

  • Last May, a huge piece of the biting surface of my lower left second molar broke off (no wisdoms). As a result of that, I was diagnosed with TMJ. Went to several TMJ specialists, but did not get the appropriate diagnosis. I live in NYC, and would greatly appreciate someone giving me advice on who to see? ....Visitor from New York     (answer)

  • TMJ Confusion: The treatment I've been recieving has made it worse. I've been getting treated for TMJ for four years. I was treated with an appliance that reposistioned my lower jaw pushing it forward and when I was finished with that I was given an appliance to wear at night. The problem is I feel more discomfort now then I did in the begining. In order to bite down, my lower jaw has to slide back. When I am in a biting position my jaw locks on the left side and I am unable to open my mouth. My muscles as well as my teeth are very sore. The dentist I have been going to has filed down my teeth quite a few times to try to create an even bite, even at times when I said my bite feels fine. I also don't feel comfortable with my teeth constantly being filed down. Every time they're filed my bite becomes more uneven and my teeth become sore and sensitive. I am puzzled on what to do next. I honestly feel as though the dentist I have been going to doesn't know what else to do but I'm not sure where else I can go to be treated. I am really trying to find somewhere else that knows more about TMJ. What is happening with my TMJ and what other kind of treatment options are there? ....Visitor from Connecticut     (answer)

  • I have had jaw problems for manu years now. It started with my jaw locking when I was 16, and has continued with popping, clicking, etc. I had my wisdom teeth removed in 1995, and my bite changed completely, but not for the better. I had some problems, had 3 different nightguards made over the years. About 2 years ago, I had a couple fillings done, and my jaw flared horribly. I could hardly eat or talk. My dentist made an impression to make another nightguard, and upon viewing it, called me speechless stating that he could not help me and referred me to a surgeon. The surgeon referred me to a facial pain/TMD specialist, and I have been seeing him ever since (2 yrs now). I have had physical therapy, biofeedback, muscle relaxants, and a new nightguard made. I have times when it calms down, but then it flares again. I do not feel like I have a comfortable placement when I close my mouth. Ever since I had the wisdom teeth out and my bite changed, nothing feels right. I had an MRI done 2 yrs ago, and my disc are completely displaced ("gone" is the word he used) and one side of my mandable is shorter than the other from wear and tear. I am currently coming down off a major flare again. I've been dealing with this for 14 years, had 4 surgeons want to break my jaw, and leave every dentist I see speechless at my bite. The last one asked me if I could eat like this......of course realizing afterwards that obviously that I had to adapt. If you were to just look at me, you'd think I was normal, I look normal, no overbite, no underbite, but when it comes down to it, I guess it is bad. I only have 2 teeth that touch...on the back right side. I am curious what your thought on orthodontics and surgery are at this point. I am seriously considering it. ....Visitor from North Carolina     (answer)

  • I had a sharp pain in the back of my neck. I went to my doctor and he had me put my head back and open my mouth. Well, my jaw popped so loud and caused my neck muscles to spasm. I had a spinal MRI done and am looking into being treated for myofacial therapy. Due to my jaw popping I think I have TMJ. The top of my skull is always hurting with head pain throughout the day. I am seeing a TMJ surgeon for an NTI device. Will this solve my pain? ....Visitor from Michigan     (answer)






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