Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Chewing: The dilemma

My friends and family know all too well about what I call "my jaw issues". It's a condition I can't remember my life without. Painful, lock-open, lock-shut, side-to-side movement – generally speaking not what your jaw is supposed to do or how it is supposed to move.

The latter part of my university days and the first few years of living in Ottawa were especially bad. I've sought treatment for my pain and discomfort a few times. However, I've since come to figure out that unfortunately fixing a TMJ disorder isn't as easy as one might think. In fact I've come to realize that my jaw will never be the way I want it to be – and all I want is for it to open and close with out moving laterally and making all kinds of cracking/scratching/grating noises.
As an aside, consider yourself schooled that jaw problems are not called TMJ. TMJ is just the physical joint where your skull, specifically the temporal bone, and the jaw, also called the mandible, are joined. TMD, or temporomandibular (joint) disorders, are the "issues".

Here are a few things that have brought me to a point where my jaw doesn't rule my life:
  • I've had a few mouth guards, but the one I have now (and for the last 5 or more years) I wear on my lower teeth. When I first I got wore it all the time (because it's on the lower teeth it doesn't really interfere with talking, etc) to teach my facial muscles to relax and not let my teeth touch when in a relaxed state
  • Infrared treatments - not sure why this was recommended, it was so long ago now, but it was part of my treatment plan
  • Physiotherapy, which also included acupuncture treatments and ultrasound treatments - this was the turning point in moving forward
  • Chiropractic adjustments on my jaw - this is part of my ongoing maintenance
  • Massage therapy, and this week I'm trying acupuncture treatments via my massage therapist - again part of my ongoing maintenance
I also have to be careful about what I eat. Basically no excess chewing (i.e.,gum or bagels that require serious jaw power). Also, I have to be careful with apples, I'm not supposed to bite into them, but rather cut them. That's not always an option so I try to only take little bites instead of trying to bite off half the apple. Oh and ever try to yawn with your mouth closed?

It's an ongoing battle. I've managed to see a vast improvement. I'm no longer always in pain and my jaw rarely locks open/closed any more. And to me that's significant relief. However, my jaw still makes about six different crack/scratch/grating noises upon opening and about the same when closing – lovely, eh?

So what brought on this post? I want to win gum! Yes I know, I'm not supposed to chew it. But I'm always on the look out for good breath fresheners and they are a hard thing to come by if you don't want them packed with crazy chemicals. Enter Pur Gum,which is aspartame-free! So even the want-to-be-nutritionist in me loves it! So my friends should I win some Pur Gum, perhaps I'll share with you! And wouldn't you like that?

In the meantime you must take a peek at Meghan Telpner's blog, who is the one giving away the gum, I read it everyday. Very fun, nourishing mind/body/soul stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Hi!
    That sounds so painful....Hope someday that you are totally pain-free!
    Nice blog btw!