My TMJ disorder has gotten so bad as I’ve gotten older. My TMJ causes terrible migraine headaches, jaw and ongoing facial pain. It has gotten so bad at times that I put myself on a liquid diet because chewing hurts too much. My dentist ran out of options for me and referred me to a TMJ dentist that is also a cosmetic dentist too. The new TMJ dentist said that it’s time for a full-mouth reconstruction, which meant porcelain crowns on many of my otherwise healthy teeth. Not too mention, the cost estimate was astronomical.
However, if it means an end to the daily TMJ pain, I would consider it. But, it doesn’t sound like he can guarantee this procedure will take care of the pain. Is this my last hope or are there other alternatives to a full-mouth reconstruction? I really don’t want to mess with my teeth that are healthy.
-Sandra in New York
I wish TMJ treatment was straightforward and that doing a specific treatment plan would put an end to your TMJ pain. Unfortunately, every TMJ specialist or dentist that you see may have a different approach. Also, each patient’s needs are different. It seems like full-mouth reconstruction is gaining popularity because it has indeed relieved pain to many TMJ sufferers. Usually it comes as a last result when other TMJ treatment plans have failed.
Since you haven’t elaborated on any of the TMJ treatments or techniques you have tried so far, it is difficult to say whether or not the reconstruction is warranted for you at this point.
Some TMJ dentists swear that crowns will create the perfect bite, which alleviates pain. Also, porcelain restorations are extremely strong. Others are convinced that composite resin material, used for fillings, will work just fine. Each TMJ dentist makes recommendations based on his or her strengths. So, you shouldn’t really ask a dentist to try something different because you may end up with substandard results.
To play it safe, it would be wise to seek a second opinion from an independent TMJ dentist. Don’t tell the new dentist about the treatment plan has been recommended. You want to glean their independent ideas and remedies without being influenced by what a previous dentist thinks. Honestly, with such a large, looming investment, it would be worth it to seek a third opinion too. Then, you will have some comparisons and also be able to get a feel for each treatment philosophy and your level of comfort with the practice.
Best of luck to you as you consider your options.
This post is sponsored by Barrington cosmetic dentist James T. Gavrilos, DDS