I was initially diagnosed as having TMJ by my dentist about five months ago, but I was in pain for quite some time before that. He did the evaluation and suggested a nightguard to help with my grinding. He made me one of those and sent me away with a bunch of other tips about how I should be using compresses and taking ibuprofen to reduce inflammation. None of it has helped. I went back in and he said that it must be that my bite is off, so I let him do a bunch of work like shaving down some teeth and building others up. Weeks and a small fortune later, I was still in pain.
At this point, I’m out thousands of dollars because insurance isn’t paying for any of this and I’ve had no relief. I went back in again yesterday and the dentist basically says my TMJ is related to my diabetes and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. I just have to live with it.
I’m no wimp, but I can’t function anymore. It hurts all the time. I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can’t focus at work. And all the stress makes me clench my jaw a lot, which makes it even worse.
I feel like this is a total copout on his part at this point. He’s taken the money, done nothing for me, and is now saying that my diabetes is to blame. Is there even a grain of truth to what he’s saying? And, if so, is there really no hope?
That sounds terrible. Sorry to hear you’ve been dealing with all this. First things first, if you’re Type 2 diabetic, ibuprofen is contraindicated. Although it’s the standard go-to for these kinds of issues, NSAIDs aren’t recommended for diabetics. Talk to your doctor so you can be on pain medicine which doesn’t put you at a greater risk.
Night Guard and TMJ Issues
If you’re grinding at night, it’s going to contribute to the issues, along with wearing down your teeth. Even if it isn’t the only thing contributing to your TMJ disorder it needs to be dealt with. That’s arguably the easiest thing to fix and the treatment is non-invasive—a nightguard like you received. It was a good first step. Bite adjustments are another logical thing to address.
Diabetic Neuropathy and Your Jaw
About half of all people with Type 2 diabetes and 20% with Type 1 diabetes will develop diabetic neuropathy. Of these, just .05% of people will develop craniofacial neuropathy. It’s fairly rare and wouldn’t be the first thing a doctor looks for. He’d rule out the obvious and easy causes first.
Where to go from Here
Your dentist saying your TMD is caused by diabetes and then doing nothing is a copout. That’s not an acceptable answer. If that’s really all he did, then he dropped the ball in a big way. While there isn’t an officially recognized specialty in TMJ, there are dentists who have completed significant training in that area who are the equivalent of a specialist.
It requires significant post-doctoral training because there isn’t enough coverage of the topic in general dental school. Look for a dentist who has invested in TMJ specific training. For instance, Dr. Becker has done extensive training with some very prestigious institutes, like:
- The Dawson Academy
- The Pankey Institute
- U.S. Dental Institute
This is the type of dentist you want to diagnose the cause of your TMJ disorder. There are lots of potential treatments, and it may take some time to work through them to find the one that’s right for you, but don’t accept defeat on this. Work with someone who’s going to keep investigating and find a solution.
This blog is sponsored by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.