Temporomandibular joint disorder. Apparently I had it. I’ve been grinding my teeth for years, but in the last months it’s kicked into high gear. It’s likely stress-related. Oddly enough, I don’t recall much grinding when I used to smoke. Still, listing the pros and cons of smoking against those of TMJ, I’m inclined to believe that TMJ is a better deal.
So I’m currently seeing the best dentist I’ve ever known. I’ve never had a phobia of the dentist’s office, and have generally had good dentists. This guy tops them all. He’s so meticulous about it all. It’s hands down the most professional office in which I’ve ever been seen.
So anyway, the headaches were persistent and my jaw was popping more regularly, so he offered to fix it. Ususally it gets done with just a bite guard that you wear when you sleep. But there is apparently a new technology that can help. So I went in yesterday afternoon for a TENSing.
Transcutaneous Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation, it was. Basically they hook your jaw up to a couple of electrodes and put one more at the base of your skull. Then they apply regular electric stimulation for about a half hour, forty minutes. What it does is cause your muscles to unlearn the patterns they’re used to so that your jaw can reseat itself in its “happy place.” Darned if it doesn’t work. The headaches are gone, my jaw doesn’t pop, and things just feel altogether in better alignment. In a few days the bite guard comes in. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, talk to your dentist. If you can get TENSed, it’s worth it.