Thursday, December 31, 2015
Dentists, Night Guards, and Dental Splints
Over thirty years ago I had what was then known as experimental TMJ surgery. I popped my jaw joint out of whack after chomping down on a popcorn that did not pop, and it was all downhill after that. I had headaches and neck pain constantly, a popping joint, and shaved down teeth to try and realign the mess until it hardly would open anymore. Following the surgery was months of physical therapy - including increasing the number of Popsicle sticks I could pry my mouth open with on the day after surgery. For the most part, Things have been so much better with an occasional reminder now and again - I really can't or won't eat anything that is hard - so pistachios, and a lot of other favorites are off limits out of fear! Routine dental visits can be torture because I can't tolerate a lot of pressure on my jaw or keep my mouth open for long periods of time. Since the surgery, I have always had to wear a mouth guard, so as not to grind down the joint and have the misery start all over again. That required a visit to s specialist who made a form fitting custom appliance at the Medical College. Since we moved, I've been using self made products, but decided to try a splint from the dentist. They started with a harder plastic mouth guard that of course is not covered by insurance. It required two impressions of both upper and lower teeth - gag! The sad part is that because it was hard, my jaw fought with it every night and lost, creating a very sore and swollen right side. So I returned to the dentist yesterday for a less intensive "cushy" splint that needed only one impression. Hopefully it will be able to sustain the impact of nightly fights. I'll probably chew through it in no time. But as long as it works, I really don't care. I'll find out tonight!