Temporomandibular joint disorder is painful and can leave your jaw feeling extremely stiff and immobile. When it's hard to open your mouth at all, or it locks in place once it's there, it's understandable to feel anxious about seeing a dentist.
The good news is, most dentists have gone through this kind of thing with many patients before. Before you give up on seeing a dentist, read this guide to learn how to make it easier on yourself.
When you call to make an appointment with your dentist, explain your situation to the receptionist. Tell them you have limited jaw mobility and ask if the dentist has experience with your condition. You can even ask to leave your phone number for the dentist to call you after hours so that you can discuss your situation one on one.
Covering your bases will let your dentist know what to expect. This way they know that you can't open your jaw very far and will work with what you can do.
Taking some steps while at home before your appointment can also be helpful. For example, massaging your neck and shoulders can help to keep you from tensing up and making your jaw condition worse.
Over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen can be useful in reducing inflammation. Taking one ahead of your appointment may reduce your discomfort and make it easier to open your jaw further.
Once you're in the dentist chair, remind your dentist of your personal needs. If they don't suggest it themselves, ask your dentist to take it slow and allow you regular breaks. Taking a few seconds to close your mouth, stretch, and relax may help to keep your jaw from locking.
With just these steps, you may be completely comfortable and able to get through a standard dental exam with ease. However, if you still feel wound up, consider sedation.
Sedation dentistry not only includes heavy sedation for things like dental surgical procedures, but it also includes twilight sedation that allows you to gently drift in and out of consciousness.
TMJ is often made worse by stress, even if that stress is because you're worried about your TMJ! By being sedated, your muscles will relax and make it easier for your dentist to do their job.
Getting a full dental exam and clean-up is entirely possible with TMJ. Set up an appointment with your new dentist and follow these steps to achieve a pain-free cleaning and exam. For more information, contact your local dental office.