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Dreading Your Trip to the Dentist? Tips for Survival for TMJ Disorder Patients

When you have jaw pain and a difficult time opening and/or closing your mouth, just thinking about going to the dentist to get a cleaning or have a cavity filled is enough to fill you with anxiety. Here are some tips we’ve gathered over the years that will make your visit easier.tmj dentist visit tips

Tips to keep in mind when you have TMJ disorder:

  • When making the appointment be sure to give the dentist and hygienist  heads up about your TMJ disorder.
  • If you have any concerns, you might want to make the first appointment a consultation to go over your situation and develop a plan.
  • Try to schedule your appointments in such a way that you won’t be required to keep your mouth open for extended periods of time….example:  If you are having your teeth cleaned, you may want them to do the bottom teeth in one visit and the top in another. Some patients do their cleanings in quadrants over four visits.
  • Bring or fax a copy of your medical records.
  • Try to find a dentist who has experience dealing with TMJ patients

Sedation and pain relief options:

  • Ask the dentist if you can take a NSAID before your visit.
  • It may be possible for the dentist to prescribe medication to take before the visit. The options could be:  Muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medication, or pain medication
  • Nitrous oxide during treatment (don’t underestimate this option)
  • Sleeping pills to be taken when arriving at the office.
  • IV sedation
  • General anesthesia
  • A combination of the above

Which pain relief and sedation options you choose will depend on several factors, including:

  • The severity of your jaw problem
  • The severity of your tooth problem (ie: root canal/cleaning/cavity/extraction)
  • Location of the problem
  • Your financial situation…. do you have insurance, and if so, does your insurance cover the above options?

Also, I have been through many of these options to receive dental care, and will be writing a post soon detailing exactly how I went about receiving the best care I’ve EVER had in the dentist’s office!

Do you have any tips to share about making your dentist visits easier? Please share them in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “Dreading Your Trip to the Dentist? Tips for Survival for TMJ Disorder Patients”

  1. You can also ask your dentist for a bite block. A wedge shaped rubber stopper-like device that holds your jaw open for you. I’ve been relying on them years. They come in different sizes and I tend to use the kids size, I’ve got great mobility but a small mouth in general. They help a lot too.

    1. After breaking my entire face in an ATV accident in ’05 – any dental visit had hurt tremendously, especially when my left jaw was replaced with a prosthetic one. Finally I was sent to a root canal specialist that used that little rubber device to keep my mouth open for so I didn’t have to stress out my jaw muscles and keep tapping out for a break. I praised him to no end and even hugged him. He even gave me a new one for future visits to my normal dentist. It’s a shame these things are out there and not all dentists know about them or use them.
      I highly recommend to any TMJ patient to give this a try and give your jaw some relief during treatment!

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