I’m drowning in medical bills right now and don’t think I can afford a dentist. But, my jaw has locked up. My sister says TMJ does that and that I need an oral device to help. All I know is I can’t even eat. I’ve heard you can use an oral mouthguard to treat TMJ. I saw one at the pharmacy the other day and it was only about $20. I can afford that much. Is there anything I need to know about using it?
Your sister is right on both points. Lock-jaw is often caused by TMJ Disorder. While, the orthotic anterior repositioning splint can be used to treat TMJ, that’s not what you saw at the store. A mouthguard is completely different. They’re used to protect people’s teeth from habitual tooth grinding. If that’s an issue you struggle with, you’ll want a mouthguard after you finish your TMJ treatment. However, the store bought ones aren’t custom fit. They just come in small, medium, or large. You can also find a one size fits all. They’re okay on a temporary basis, but you’ll grind through them rather quickly.
One made by your dentist will be more effective. I know your TMJ is the focus right now, but if you don’t protect your teeth from the grinding there are serious consequences. Not only does the grinding aggravate your TMJ, but it can lead to cracked teeth or even teeth coming loose and needing to be replaced. Best case scenario, they end up ground down to nubs and all need to be crowned. Talk about expensive!
But, back to your current issue. Here’s what I’d like you to do in the immediate so we can try to get the swelling down and get you eating again. I’d like you to take 800 mg. of ibuprofen about three times a day. In addition, you need to alternate heat and ice packs. Wear them for about ten minutes at a time, a few times a day as you’re able.
You will need to see a dentist to get the appropriate treatment. I know you’re buried in medical bills right now. Many dentists are compassionate and would be willing to work with you on payments so you can get the treatment you need right away and pay it out later.
Even if you can’t find one willing to work you, Care Credit is a fantastic option. It’s a medical “credit card”, but they let you choose your terms.
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