I managed to come through the Great Plague of 2011 unscathed (which reminds me, I still need to clean the vomit off my black suede boots. Yay). But I have a new fun disorder instead. Temporomandibular joint disorder, more commonly known as TMJ.

Let me explain.

Here’s your brain.

Here’s your brain on TMJ.

According to my dentist, I’ve been clenching my teeth too much (and to be sure, during the family-“fun”-filled holidays, there was plenty of clenching going on) which is causing the joints in my jaw to protest. It’s a dull ache at all times, punctuated by acute pain when I talk, sneeze, chew, or move. The dentist gave me ibuprofen and some muscle relaxers (I took 1/4 of one and slept until 10 the next morning – not such a good plan for regular use) and told me to come back in a month to be fitted for a football-style mouth guard. I somehow skipped the fun of orthodontia as an adolescent, so apparently I get to make up for it now. Woohoo! She also said not to eat anything crunchy, chewy, or hard. I’m not entirely sure what’s left, so I haven’t exactly been following that advice.

TMJ is extremely common and no big deal. But dudes. It hurts. It wakes me up in the middle of the night and often makes me nauseated. And it seems to be getting worse.

All this complaining made me realize just how grateful I am that the Plague skipped me – there’s no way I could open my mouth enough to puke effectively.

So at least I have that going for me.

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11 Replies to “Disordered”

  1. I have this on and off from trying so hard to get to sleep, oh the teeth clenching! It does hurt like a MOTHER. Can I have some of your muscle relaxers for when it flares up again? Or you know, so I can sleep so it WON’T flare up again? 🙂 🙂
    GEEZ quit being so TENSE about everything. That’s right, listen to Bobby McFerrin and your TMJ will just melt away. OR…become a man. Those are your options.

    1. HAHAHAHAHAHA! i would rather become a man than listen to bobby mcfarrin. and i am pretty sure my husband would rather be married to a man than have to listen to me listening to bobby mcfarrin.

  2. Em, I have some advice on this…shocker…don’t I have advice on every subject? I learned that my dental insurance does not cover treatment for this. I hope yours does. I had a night guard made by my dentist and it was over $300. In a few months it broke and it cost $80. to have it repaired. I have since bought them at CVS at at a fraction of the cost and they work just as well. Biggest advice: MASSAGE THERAPY!! It has helped immensely. I have been to one in Dayton and to one in VA and they are both trained to work on this problem. It is worth the $60 per hour. I also have become more aware of how tense I am and have been able to learn to relax my jaw. Sure hope you get relief!

    1. Thanks Aunt Diane. You’re the second person in two days to tell me not to spend money on the expensive version! I hadn’t thought about massage therapy, but that’s a good idea.

  3. My great aunt Minerva had an extreme case of TMJ and couldn’t open her jaw. She ate and smoked through a tiny crack in her jaw. Good luck to you, Burns. You are prolly doomed to have to smoke your pall malls through a tiny crack in your teeth…just saying…

  4. I have some advice also as a teeth grinder. 1) The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief by Clair Davies is a great book. It tells you what muscles to massage yourself for this condition and hundreds of others. As someone with numerous painful conditons such as fibromyalgia, teeth grinding, and nerve damage I have used this book over and over countless times. This last time one of my molars hurt and ached so bad that it seemed like I needed it pulled or root canaled or something. So I went down the list of muscles in this book that can cause tooth pain and found out that it was a muscle in my neck, yes I could feel the lump with massage oil on, and rubbed it away. Who would have thought that a muscle in my neck would make my tooth ache. I had actually thought it was from the teeth grinding initially but found out differently. 2) Use magnesium oil. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer and anyone who grinds their teeth or who needs muscle relaxers needs more magnesium.

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