Back in 1996, I got in a car accident. I was coming home from a late shift at work (4 p.m. – midnight). As I was waiting at a stop light, a car came full speed and rear-ended my car. Long story short, the driver that hit me was heavily intoxicated. I was not seriously injured but did suffer whiplash and soft tissue damage in my neck. I was also diagnosed with TMJ. That is where everything began.
What is TMJ you might ask? TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint in the jaw. It’s the small joint which is located in front of the ears and it connects your jaw to your skull. When that joint is injured, inflamed, or irritated it can cause discomfort. After my accident, I went to a dentist that specialized in treating TMJ. He advised me to restrict certain things or movements in my jaw to avoid flare ups.
Over the years, I have done some research and honestly, my situation is not as bad as what some people deal with. I do get popping in my jaw sometimes when I yawn or bite into something like a sandwich that requires me to open my mouth wide. TMJ also makes it difficult at dental appointments. Having to keep my mouth open for any length of time is hard. Thankfully, any dentist I’ve seen understands and allows me breaks to rest my jaw.
Could these random pains that I get in my jaw be related to my TMJ? I can’t tell you how many times I have raced to the dentist because of pain. Pain in the jaw is very similar to tooth pain so it’s hard to tell which is which. But, more times than not, the dentist simply took x-rays and then told me that my teeth were fine So, I have often wondered whether these pains are related somehow to my TMJ.
Unfortunately, I have had many teeth pulled or root canals done on them. I’ve often wondered what if the pain that caused me to go to the dentist and have that work done really was unnecessary. It’s depressing to think about but it’s something I’ve always wondered about. If you suffer from TMJ, I would love to hear how it affects you. When you have a flare up, how do you treat it? Have you had dental work done for pain but now wonder if it was just your jaw flaring up?