Severe neck tension sending radiating pain into head

by Misty Lea

Hello Dr.,

I have a disclocated disk on my right side from an injury over 7 years ago. I was completely symptom free for the first 6 years when suddenly the entire left side of my neck went into severe spasm. I have very little jaw pain. Occassionally i will have slight jaw pain on my left side. The head pain coming from my neck is what I mainly want to resolve. I even had occipital nerve like pain due to my neck muscles becoming so tight on the left side.

I am working with a doctor in Indianapolis where I live who wants me to pay $2,400.00 for a daytime and a nighttime appliance. The daytime appliance looks like a flat plane splint that lies on all teeth. The Dr claims this is to increase joint space and relieve pressure. The nighttime one brings my front teeth on top and bottom into alignment so that I can only put pressure on these teeth when I clench. Both are hard appliances.

I am very leery of any nightguard as I have tried one in the past that pulled my jaw forward and caused me intense pain.

How is your smartguard appliance different from the ones my doctor wants to give me? Does it sit on the front teeth only like an NTI appliance does? If it is similar, what would you say about concerns that with continuous use this could lead to an open bite? Is it a hard or soft appliance? I have heard from other doctors that soft appliances are worthless and cannot balance the jaw.

Another question that has really been bothering me is how do I know if I am truly clenching my teeth at night. This is what my doctor claims is my problem. My cone beam scan showed that the jawbone at the angle of my jaw on both sides bows outward due to tight jaw muscles from clenching. Have you any insight on this? It sounds absolutely absurd to me. I dont want to invest in mouthguards if clenching isn't really my true problem. I have a bad bite, and still believe that this is my main problem and that orthodontics is what i need.

I am so unsure of what treatment to undertake. I cannot afford to make my pains any worse as they are excrutiating.

I would appreciate any feedback you are willing to give.

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Which way to go?
by: Dr. Spainhower

Hello Misty,

You aren't alone.

The issues you face in terms of decision making happens all the time with many TMJ sufferers.

The treatment your dentist is recommending is probably a good treat, if you have night time clenching problems. Especially if you have a bad bite.

We only actually clench about 8-10 minutes during the night time for a heavy clencher, but if you have a bad bite, I would think it's probable that it would be more than that.

The important thing to consider, is, do you feel bad or worse during sleeping times and right when you wake up? If so, then the an appropriate night guard should benefit you.

If you have TMJ symptoms only during the day, then you should study other options like stress reduction, exercising, posture, and diet.

Ok, let's talk about the SmartGuard. Myself and I for the most part prefer the SmartGuard over my expensive TMJ hard splints that I make in my office...some don't.

As an OTC TMJ night guard, I truly believe it is the best overall TMJ night guard available. It won't work for everyone...but then again, the custom made TMJ splints don't work for everyone either.

The SmartGuard is soft that fits around your teeth and gums with a harder bottom for your front lower teeth to contact. Yes, the NTI is similar to the SmartGuard as they both are "Anterior Depropramming" appliances.

They will Not cause an open bite...unless you wear it more than 12 hours per day...just like the NTI.

Open bites are misunderstood. If you have a bad bite (and many dentists don't understand this part, and you wear a quality night guard that relaxes your jaw muscles allow the condyle in the jaw to relax and move up and back a bit.

What that does is rotate the jaw open in the front teeth area. That can appear that the night guard has created an open bite.

However, if you do wear an anterior open bite more than 24 hours for a few days, then you WILL start to have a true open bite.

I have worn the SmartGuard every night for 2 years now (I started wearing it before it became available), and no open bite has occured. TMJ dentists have created anterior deprogramming appliances for decades with the same results.

So, to avoid the 2400.00 cost, it is a good option to try the SmartGuard first. If it doesn't work for you, it's a small price to pay for a high likelihood that it will work.

I keep in contact with mypruchasers to help them along.

Good luck, let me know if you have any other questions.


Dr. Spainhower

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