I mentioned to my dentist I’ve been having headaches. He instantly started messing with my jaw. He said he feels certain that I have a TMJ and that I need full-mouth reconstruction to fix it. I was beside myself. I’ve never even heard of something like that. Then, to make matters worse, the assistant brings me in an estimate and says my insurance probably won’t cover this so-called necessary treatment and that to cure my headaches, I’ll have to pony up more than I make in a year. It sounds like snake-oil to me. Is there any truth at all to this or is he just trying to make a quick buck?
Monica C. – Arkansas
Headaches are indeed a symptom of TMJ disorders. It doesn’t sound like they took the time to explain why you received the diagnosis, though. A TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint isn’t working properly. That’s the hinge point of your jawbone.
Most commonly people begin to experience pain in the jawbone as a result of grinding your teeth or clenching. Sometimes it happens while you’re asleep so you may not even be aware you’re doing it. You could also clench when you’re agitated or stressed.
Any of these things can affect the wear on your teeth and cause pain throughout your mouth, jaw, head and neck. Typically, a full-mouth reconstruction is only needed when the problem has been ongoing and no other treatment is working. Doctors usually try to treat TMJ disorders conservatively at first, perhaps with a bite splint to wear overnight. However, we also don’t know the root cause of your issue, nor do we know the extent of the damage, so it’s impossible to say whether full-mouth reconstruction is warranted.
Doctors usually try to treat TMJ disorders conservatively at first, perhaps with a bite splint to wear overnight. However, we also don’t know the root cause of your issue, nor do we know the extent of the damage, so it’s impossible to say whether full-mouth reconstruction is warranted.
However, it doesn’t sound like your dentist tried anything else. If I were in your position, I’d get a second opinion from someone with specialized training in TMJ.
IF it is determined you do need a full mouth reconstruction, you’ll want to be absolutely certain the dentist that does it has a lot of TMJ training. Also, you’ll want them to have cosmetic expertise.
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