Teeth -- Update

I know you all find this incredibly fascinating, so I'll keep telling you about it! (If you need a refresher, I last posted about my teeth on August 13.)

I realized I might have missed an important point -- I have TMJD, or temporomandibular joint disorder. Say that three times fast -- I dare you! I've been in treatment for about six years, with varying degrees of success. The key is that the pain (usually significant muscular headaches) is WAY better than it has been. That gives me the luxury of time right now to explore options.

So, I detailed the first consult six weeks ago. I saw orthodontist #2 yesterday, who did offer a slightly different option than ortho #1. The relationship between my teeth hasn't really changed, but I found it interesting that more of my teeth touched when I bit down. Maybe three or four of them actually made contact, instead of just one lonely molar. And no, I haven't done anything differently in the intervening six weeks.

Doc #1 recommended braces, which would include screws inserted into the bone above the teeth. Rubber bands would be used to try to torque that bone down into place, bringing the teeth with it. Call me crazy, but that sounds painful! And it's expensive, for 27 months of treatment.

Doc #2 recommended the surgical option -- braces first to bring the teeth into the right relationship with their neighbors, then either or both of the arches (teeth and the bone that holds them) are surgically separated from the jaw. Metal plates are installed to hold everything together properly. Again, major pain from the surgery, although less time consuming and less expensive.

The key in all of this is that either approach can bring the teeth in line correctly and fix the bite. There's no guarantee that there will be pain reduction -- 85% of surgical patients report at least some pain improvement, 10% have no change and 5% have more pain. Pain reduction does not mean that pain goes away, of course.

So, I think, for now, that that neither of these options is the right one for me right now. I'm going to talk with my regular dentist next week to review, but I honestly think the pain would have to be WAY worse than it is to purposefully bring on more pain with no promise of resolution!

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