Update on TMJ Saga

So.  When last you left your intrepid heroine, she was trying to avoid a second surgery and find a way to fix her stupid broken face.  (Gripping, I know.)

Turns out that I don’t need more surgery and my TMJ is sleep related.  (Heather G, hang on, I know you’ll love this…)

My current doctor sent me to a new doctor to explore non-surgical options that he doesn’t do because he most definitely did not want to do more surgery on me.  The second surgery would be more invasive and wouldn’t correct the problem, just the symptoms.

At this point, I did NOT care.  I was just over pretty much everything and wanted it fixed RAIGHT NOW.  I’m not so good with the patience.

So a couple weeks later, I go to my new doctor who gave me not only an exhaustive 20 page patient information sheet, but proceeded to do a examination that consisted on him having me do all sorts of movements and rate my pain.  He even checked my neck and my mobility of my legs.  Which was a bit confusing, but there is also something comforting about a doctor that is that through.  You feel like you’re getting your money’s worth.  (Which I should, it was an $800 visit.  Which might be reimbursed by insurance, might not.  WHEEE, American Healthcare!!!)

After the exam, the doctor spoke to me and said that he thought my TMJ pain was sleep related.***   Apparently when you sleep and you are not getting the proper amount of air to your airway, you body will attempt to adjust itself to help and make movements that are 2 to 3 times stronger or harder than you can while awake.  So my pain was due to either due to sleep apnea or upper airway resistance that was causing me to clench and twist my jaw around, trying to get more air.


So he sent me home with  a pulse oximeter, to measure my oxygen levels and my pulse for a night.  After getting a reading, he looked at the results and told me that I don’t have sleep apnea because my oxygen levels are fine, but my pulse rate goes up to nearly twice its average throughout the night intermittently.  So that means I have upper airway resistance and need to wear a TAP 3 which yanks my lower jaw forward to open my airway and help me sleep better.  Which will lessen the unnecessary jaw movements, which will lessen my morning headaches, which will allow my jaw to heal and lessen the daytime headaches and make me into an all-around happier person who isn’t gobbling the maximum dosage of ibuprofen on a daily basis.

Plus, it’ll stop me snoring.

Yay for me!!!

Well, almost.  The price of the device and the monitoring will be the same as my surgery.  (I know, right?  Life lifts me up and then punches me in the tit….)  But at least there’s no scalpels involved.

So.  That happened.

Anyone else got sleep problems?  Maybe some that don’t cost you thousands of dollars?  Let’s talk sleep!  Make Heather G. happy!

***Disclaimer: What I related is what I understood regarding my situation with my doctor.  I know nothing of medicine and if you treat what said as a diagnosis for your own problems, you’re a doofus.  See your doctor.

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19 comments on “Update on TMJ Saga

  1. Mike
    June 27, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    I was wondering how all your TMJ problems were going after your last post… which was how I found your site.

    It’s interesting to read what you’ve posted about in regard to your airways affecting your TMJ…

    My deal is along the same lines. I hired a Watch Pat (http://www.itamar-medical.com/WatchPAT.html) from my dentist and wore it overnight so he could determine the results of my sleep patterns. He actually diagnosed me with sleep aphnoea and sent me to an ENT who specialised in the link between sleep and TMJ. The ENT suggested nasal surgery after looking at my results and CT scans. I just had the surgery last week so I’m still recovering. It was done under general anesthetic and consisted of septum deviation correction, bilateral turbinants and bilateral FESS… I know, it’s all a bit of a mouthful but I’m becoming well acquainted with this medical jargon 😉

    Anyway, that’s supposed to sort out the breathing issues but I feel like I’ve done a hell of a lot of damage over the last 10 years and my joints are internally damaged, so I’m considering actual TMJ surgery. I’ve found a highly regarded TMJ surgeon in Melbourne (I live in Sydney so it’s about 10 hours drive or 2 hour plane flight) and will be meeting with him in the next couple of weeks to look at my MRI results.

    I feel the same as you… I just want it fixed pronto. I know it’s a process and I know surgery on the TMJs is considered risky surgery, but I’d rather take the risk than go on with this discomfort and pain. You’ve had surgery haven’t you? What did you have done?

    Good luck with it all. I hope we both find resolution sometime in the not too distant future 🙂


    • kindofamess
      June 27, 2011 at 10:38 am #

      MIKE! I’m so glad you’re still reading!

      And I hope you feel better soon after that surgery! My only TMJ surgery was arthrocentesis (joint irrigation), but I’ve had other more major surgeries in the past and I know that recovery is NOT fun. My other surgery would have been arthroplasty, but this new doctor doesn’t see that as neccessary.

      But I’m really glad you’ve found another doctor that will be able to give you options. It’s SO frustrating to have to sit and wait and see, but if everything gets fixed in the end, then I GUESS it’s okay. 🙂

      Take care, and keep me updated, okay??

  2. ElfPuddle
    June 27, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Yay! no surgery!

    Boo! for expensive medical care in general.

    Last week, I ground off a molar point while sleeping. Luckily (?) I have bizarre teeth due to all the tetracycline I had as a child. That particular molar has five other points, so one is not missed. (Yes, I asked my dentist. Yes, he told me not to worry. Especially since I hadn’t ever done it before. If I do it again, I’m to report it in case it becomes a problem. Don’t use my medical advice as treatment for yourself either.)

    • kindofamess
      June 27, 2011 at 11:13 am #

      Ground off a molar point?!? That sounds so much worse than anything I’m dealing with. (I have a think about teeth breakage and grinding though…..) You poor thing!

      And they pumped us full of those anti-biotics when we were little, didn’t they? We always had a bottle of amoxicillin in the fridge, that pink stuff? I had chronic ear infections and I was made to guzzle that crap like it was kool-aid…

      • Heather G
        June 27, 2011 at 11:17 am #

        OMG. I actually really loved that pink stuff (I also had ear infections) and I have this spot on one of my lower teeth that sometimes people think is a sesame seed. I think it was from that pink stuff that tasted like bubble gum.

        • ElfPuddle
          June 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

          Yep. The nummy pink stuff that made us feel better helped make me the wonderfully bizarre person I am today.
          It’s also one of the reasons I developed allergies to all ‘cillin and sulfa’ biotics. (Now when I need an antibiotic, I get the really, really spendy stuff. Way to be elite, Elfie!)

          • ElfPuddle
            June 27, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

            I should clarify that I guzzled the stuff because of chronic ear infections…which almost completely went away after my tonsilectomy.

            I should think before hitting post.

  3. chicago13
    June 27, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    I love it! Well, not that you have jaw-related sleep issues. That is just plain old sucky (btw, im on my phone because I couldn’t wait to comment on this sleep post. Ha. So I kept trying to type sucky and it keeps changing to ducky. Damn auto correct!) So please tell me that your insurance will cover the machine?! Have you started using it yet? Its kind of awkward at first but usually people feel so much better they don’t care.

    And can I just say, I did not see this coming. But it is providing me with further evidence that almost everything is related to sleep somehow. Wow.

    Also, im going to ask around and see what I can find out about upper airway resistance. Please keep me posted on your sleep! Im

    • Heather G
      June 27, 2011 at 11:05 am #

      Um, clearly I should not be reading blogs on my phone in a waiting room in corporate health.


      By “machine” I meant your oral device. (And now I feel better that you don’t have to wear a CPAP machine!)
      By the dangling, “Im” at the end of the blog, I meant, “I’m sending you thoughts of peaceful sleep and a pain free days.”

      Next time you discuss sleep, I will try to contain myself until I get to a computer.

    • kindofamess
      June 27, 2011 at 11:18 am #

      I KNEW you’d be excited! 🙂 And I totally didn’t see this coming EITHER. I mean, my other doctor never once asked me how my sleep was, but there was a whole page of questions on it from my current doctor.

      Luckily the TAP 3 is a mouthpiece and not a device like for sleep apnea, so other than probably some drooling, I’ll be okay. It’s like those things that get advertised to stop you from snoring, where they pull your lower jaw forward, except this one has a hook on the bottom piece and it hooks to the upper piece and keeps my jaw forward and a little open. It’ll be a while before I get it, even after impressions it has to go to some lab to be FDA approved because it’s a medical device and not a dental device.

      And definitely let me know if you hear anything! I’ll keep you updated when I get the TAP 3, I know you of all people will want to know how my sleep turns out! 😉

  4. Allie
    June 27, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    Glad you found out what the problem is, even if it is hella expensive. Here’s to feeling better!

    • kindofamess
      June 27, 2011 at 11:19 am #

      Thanks! And I’m finding out LIFE is hella expensive. And it BLOWS.

      I need a patron. Anyone want to sponsor my life?

  5. silversandalled
    June 27, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    Yowwww. I had TMJ + a severe overbite and all kinds of other jaw wonkyness… had to have 2 surgeries and my chin moved forward, which sucked (same thing Bristol Palin apparently had, LOL), but I’m glad I did it. My jaw still “clicks” sometimes when I open my mouth (which weirds me out so I try not to think about it), but the rest of the issues went away.
    I’m glad you’re going to be able to avoid another surgery… really hope your insurance covers the procedure, though – that’s crazy that it’s STILL going to cost as much as surgery. Hopefully it feels worth it afterwards!!

    • kindofamess
      June 27, 2011 at 11:56 am #

      LORD, lady, my sympathies! My friend is currently recovering from his second surgery to move his jaw forward and I KNOW it’s tough. Bless your heart…

      And thank you! Even if my insurance says no, this doctor’s office is SO great about helping me handle that, they even gave me a list of appeal options and everything. They are definitely on the ball.

  6. Ms. Bunny
    June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    So glad that your new doc found a solution. Bummed on your behalf that it is still super expensive. I’ll send vibes to your health insurance to cover it. That’ll work right?

    • kindofamess
      June 27, 2011 at 11:53 am #

      YES. I will take any good vibes that anyone is offering on anything. You could send me good vibes that I not burn my tongue on my morning tea and I would still be just as grateful. 🙂

  7. Kristy
    June 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    Your disclaimer (mostly the use of the word doofus) cracked me up.

    I’m super super glad you have found someone who is working with you on a non-surgical fix. I wish it wasn’t so expensive, but if it fixes you, then it’s worth it, right? And I’ll also cross my fingers that your insurance will cover at least some of it.

  8. ddayporter
    June 28, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    I forgot to comment before. but YAY for no surgery. that is awful about the expense, but if it gives you some relief, well, that’s a relief!

    I have no real sleep issues at the moment! I used to snore but somehow randomly got over it, no idea how. I just don’t really snore anymore except umm, if I go to bed drunk. hah. my only issue now is waking up to random dog freak-outs or when my husband shoots out an elbow in his sleep..

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