Jaw Pain

by Jamey
(Kansas)

About 5 or 6 months ago I was hit in the left ear/jaw area by a patient at work. I was sent to the er and diagnosed with a ruptured ear drum. My head, ear, and jaw hurt, but I was told that in time the pain would go away. My jaw started popping every time I ate. It wouldn't pop if I just opened it, but if there was something between my teeth then I can hear a popping noise.

After I got hit I had many problems with getting my ears to drain and the eustation (sp?) tubes to work properly. I have always had problems with them, but it seemed to get worse. Then about a month later I developed a lump on the opposite side of my jaw. The doc told me it was not related to my trauma because my ear looked dull so my lymphoid was swollen because of the infection. Which seemed odd to me because that has never happened previously when I had ear infections.

To make a long story short, about a week ago I was eating a hot dog and I heard a very loud pop. Actually it was more like a crack. The pain was horrible and I couldn't open my jaw very far. I went to the dentist and she is referring me to an oral surgeon. Because I have pain when my joint area is touched and when she pushed on my upper jaw in my mouth she believes I have torn the ligament or cartilage. She prescribed lortab for me, but I can't get into the oral surgeon for a month. I am in a lot of pain and the drugs aren't re-leaving the pain very well.

What is the oral surgeon likely to do? Also, when I talked to Workers comp they told me most dentists and oral surgeons don't usually take workman's comp so it may take some time to find one that will. Is the delay in treatment going to make the problem worse?

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Hit in the jaw pain.
by: Dr. Spainhower

Hello Jamey,

Thank you for asking.

Obviously I can't treat you through this format, but I will give you some options to consider.

The priority is to get you out of pain asap.
You want to see a TMJ Specialist right away to start the diagnosis and treatment. But there is the home remedy night guard that you can try while you wait to get in to the specialist.

Go to my "TMJ Appliance" page and follow those instructions. The modified guard sounds simple, but it works in most cases (to get people out of pain). What it doesn't do, is diagnose the problem, nor does it treat for permanent cures, but it does relieve pain for most people.

Then you'll most likely need an MRI to evaluate what damage has been done in the TMJ (if any). You could have had some damage to the disc. The disc may have been split or perforated. It sounds like you at least have a dislocating disc which is very common. But, if that's the case, your body isn't doing very well with it.

If you have damage to the disc, your TMJ Specialist might recommend to wear an
"Anterior Repositioning splint", which directs your lower jaw forward a bit to relieve pressure on the joint and hopefully keep a position that might be more favorable to your disc.

You might have to wear this type of splint 6 weeks or so. But depending on any possible damage, you might have to wear it up to 8-12 months. It really depends on any damage in the joint.

So, what do you do?

First...try to get yourself out of pain with the simple TMJ appliance found on this website, and wear it while you sleep. The better simple mouth guard to purchase is the "Doctor's Mouth Guard" that is on my shopping cart page. It does eliminate some problems that a regular football mouth guard may cause.

Next...Find a Dentist TMJ Specialist to Quarter back the treatment. You might need the MRI taken.

Next...you might have to see an Oral Surgeon.

Ok, if you gain relief from the home made mouth guard, then you might want to just keep wearing it at night if you show significant relief, and can stay out of pain during the day. If not, you'll need to see the TMJ specialist to make you a TMJ splint to cover all of your teeth.

If you wear the home made modified mouth guard that I describe on this website, you cannot wear it more than 10-12 hours a day or you will have supereruption and mess up your bite permanently.

Good luck with your pains, and please report back to let us all know how it went.

Dr. Spainhower

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