My Struggle with TMD

Many of you might be saying, what is TMD? I have never heard of it? Well neither had I until I was diagnosed with it a few years ago. TMD is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and it is more common than you may think. The Temporomandibular joint is your jaw joint so having TMD affects many things like talking, chewing, yawning, singing and more. Symptoms consist of joint pain, difficulty chewing or talking, facial pain, or locking of the jaw. TMD is quite common but many people, not all, only have light symptoms that are easily treated. Unfortunately, I was not one of the easy cases.


I was diagnosed TMD around 5 years ago when I was in highschool. Giving a quick synopsis of what happened to me would start before I was diagnosed however, it would begin when I got my first set of braces in middle school. We did not know at the time but my original orthodontist was pushing my teeth so far back in my mouth that he was causing pressure in the joint.


Fast forward a few years, I was getting my wisdom teeth removed. When you get your wisdom teeth removed, you have your mouth open for a long period of time and that is what kick started my jaw issues. Shortly after that my jaw locked open for the first time. I know what you are thinking… locked open? Well, it’s like this: imagine you are yawning, now keep your mouth open. That is exactly what happens to me except I’m not able to close it myself and closing my jaw was never fun.


They tried putting needles in through my mouth, and then angle them back towards the joint. Just thinking back on this is painful. They used this method at least 4 times and it was brutal. But soon they found out that putting me under conscious sedation was a less painful way to close my jaw because it relaxes the muscles. It was a blessing.  


Overall, I have been to the hospital and through so many different doctors that you would think I was 80 not 20. I have currently been through 2 minor procedures, 3 surgeries, 1 round of steroid shots and been to the hospital around 12 times in the past 3 years.


My last surgery was to cut across my upper jaw and move it forward and secure it with tiny plates and screws, in hopes to relieve the pressure my original orthodontist. Along with this surgery, I have had braces put on a second time to help.


Since the last surgery in July, things have been interesting. I can feel two of the screws in my jaw on either side of my nose and it’s weird. My jaw does still hurt but the pain is significantly better. My only issue with getting this surgery is the headaches I get. The pain from my jaw causes headaches almost every single day. It is a different kind of headache. It almost starts around my nose (where the screws are) and the spreads to my temples and basically renders me useless. There are days where the headache is bearable and I can push it aside and get work done but there are other days where all I want to do lay down.


One final issue I have with the surgery is breathing. This one correlates with the headaches. Along with the headaches and the colder weather, breathing has gotten strange and annoying. You may ask, how can breathing be annoying? Well, no matter how hard I try to explain, it just would not come out right. It is almost as if the air I am breathing in is several degrees colder than it actually is and it sometimes starts my headaches or makes them worse.


Overall, I don’t regret getting any of the surgeries or anything that I had done to help my jaw work properly. I do have my bad days like everyone does, and while most of my journey was quite painful, it was worth it because my jaw joint feels better than it did before.