Bruxism Causing TMD

Do You...
*Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide? Quite often..
*Limited ability to open the mouth very wide? I thought it was just used as a good excuse..
*Jaws that get "stuck" or "lock" in the open- or closed-mouth position? Oh, dangit..yes.
*Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth (which may or may not be accompanied by pain)? Everytime I eat.
*A tired feeling in the face? Ehh..?
*Difficulty chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite – as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly? Yep.
*Swelling on the side of the face? Sometimes when I have slept hard the night before.

So.. for me I answered yes to all the questions above in a recent discussion with my dentist.  I was consistently 're-do'ing the same fillings in the same darn teeth for the past 4 years.  Last year the result was a dreaded root canal.  I've now had three.  Awesome.  I swear I brush my teeth.  So much so that my dentist told me to stop. (True story.) He then finally brought up TMD.  As read from WebMD:

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) occur as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint, and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. These disorders are often incorrectly called TMJ, for temporomandibular joint.

OK..so?  My dentist did say that I am not an extreme case- but it was definitly a problem that needed to be fixed, because I could worsen the effects of TMD. I was unintentionally grinding my teeth causing my fillings to loosen and wear, allowing food to creep underneath- gross.  Along with that- the grinding (and persistent-Type-A brushing) was wearing away my healthy teeth, too- making them more prone to cavities.  AND this wreched teeth grinding, medically called Bruxism, was causing TMD, as mentioned above.  Not to mention the $1,000 here..and $856 there for random dentist visits.

Welcome my new night time buddy..THE mouth guard.  After another crown placement..I was fitted for a mold and then I waited..and waited for it to come in.  Finally. 
I tried my best to make this picture less-scary.  You can see I was mildly successful. 

After night number two I will say that although somewhat uncomfortable in the beginning, I am day number two without a morning headache.  And second day in a row I can chew gum :)  (usually one day is all I get- so onions in my lunch salad happens once a week- you are welcome.) 

I was curious what else I could do outside of the mouth guard solution.. During my lunch break I read up a little more on TMD.. I was leaning forward reading- resting my head in my hands..

*Don't rest your chin on your hand or hold the telephone between your shoulder and ear. Practice good posture to reduce neck and facial pain.

Crap.  Ok.

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