Now this blog is even closer to home than my father’s report. 5 years ago, whenever I went for a walk during the cooler months I would return home with an extremely bad toothache. I put this down to one of my teeth on the left-side being over sensitive. However, after seeing my then dentist, he X rayed my teeth, checked and informed me that he could not find out which tooth was causing pain as nothing was showing up, but that he could remove my wisdom tooth and continue this process until he extracted the tooth that pained me. I told him that I needed time to think about this, and after some deliberation, decided to do nothing as I did not want all my teeth removed from one side of my mouth.
9/10 months later and the pain flared up like nothing I had ever experienced before. It floored me. I went to my doctor who advised me to take Ibuprofen. It helped, but as soon as the 3 hours of pain relief offered by the drug were up, the pain would come shooting back. I went back to my dentist who said he had many people that suffered from pain such as mine, and he could only advocate using pain relief drugs and nothing else, but referred me to The London Hospital to see a specialist there, who I saw 2 months later.
The London Hospital required an MRI scan and the specialist told me there was nothing he could offer as a solution and that if I could not open my mouth at all in the future, the hospital could operate and give me a synthetic jaw. However, I would never be able to chew normally again. So I took no further action.
Another month on, nearing Christmas and the pain was increasing. The Ibuprofen was no longer working so well, so I started to work my own reflexes; applying pressure to various points on my hands and feet. Doing so would calm down the pain, but would not eliminate it completely, as there was an on-going problem. As a temporary solution, I began packing out my jaw at night with cotton wool and gauze, as I found that if I held my mouth slightly open it would help me to sleep. I moved downstairs to sleep on the sofa in order to stop disturbing my husband during the night. I also found that using an L-shaped pillow helped to hold my jaw in position. I was becoming increasingly worried (what could I do), I thought back to an old chiropractor that used to see my sons in Brentwood. I remembered him doing some facial work with one of my sons that made a real difference, so I called him for an appointment. Upon seeing him, he immediately told me that I need an orthodontist, “I do, really”? I could barely open my mouth and was liquidising my food daily now to try and reduce the pain. Fortunately, my chiropractor knew of just the person who could help me, an old friend of his who specialised in such conditions.
One week before Christmas I was sitting in the orthodontist’s dentist chair for a free consultation. He was brilliant, he completely understood what had happened. I had an overlapped jaw. My top teeth went over the bottom teeth and into the gum, caused by too many teeth being removed when I was young and wearing a brace that pulled my teeth too far forward and I had worn away all of the cartilage in the left side of my jaw. My condition was defined as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – TMJ.
He told me that he could make a splint which would go over my bottom teeth to stop my jaw closing on itself, then once he had the height right, I could consider moving my teeth to stop my jaw from closing on itself. I was told that the work would commence in the new year.
Christmas was extreme pain. I carried on with all festivities, friends over for dinner etc. and burned myself out. The pain had become so great that I could barely move from the sofa.
Pain-killers were now completely ineffective.
Reflexology and Pain Relief
One day I was in such pain that my husband wanted to take me to A&E. I told him to hold-on. I decided I would work my reflexes all day, every half-hour and do nothing else and if by evening I had not managed to contain the pain I would go to A&E.
So I stayed on the sofa and worked my reflexes intensively all morning; feet and hands. By 12 noon, all the pain had subsided. I questioned myself as to why I had not tried this before! Only that I had put my family first throughout this period to the point where I had not made time for myself.
The following day I had my first appointment with the orthodontist for treatment, and please note if my appointment had been the day previous, he would not have been able to get near me let alone run all of the X-rays etc.
Treatment took around 9 months to find the right balance. During this period my jaw pain completely subsided, as I had managed to contain the pain myself using reflexology.
My orthodontist told me that he didn’t expect the pain to go away completely but I should get some good relief from the treatment. However I am pleased to report that after a period of 3 years, my jaw can no longer close on itself and to date I no longer experience any pain.
I worked my teeth and gum reflexes throughout my treatments and also in the orthodontist chair. After discovering how effectively reflexology had been, I stopped using painkillers completely.
I always work my reflexes several times per week and as soon as I feel any build up in my reflexes I work them through immediately.
Why did I write this long winded report? Well, I hope to reach out to other TMJ sufferers in the hope that I can throw them a lifeline, show them that there is help out there and that there is a lot that we can do for ourselves as opposed to relying solely on medical pain-relief drugs that often lose their effectiveness after a very short period of time.
6 steps to help with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – TMJ
- Locate a good reflexologist and book in a few treatments if possible. During those sessions ask the reflexologist how you can help yourself.
- Never accept the first opinion you receive from a doctor/dentist or specialist as gospel.
- Liquidise your food while the pain persists to reduce inflammation.
- Use an L-shaped pillow to sleep at night which will help you to keep your jaw from moving.
- Locate a good orthodontist and make sure they know what they are talking about. This is very specialist work.
- Always wear the splint provided and never eat without it.
To find out more about TMJ, click here.