Stacy: Hi Kristen, why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself
Kristen: I’m 30yrs old, I’ve been married for 11yrs and we have 2 amazing children.
Right now my hobbies are gardening, reading, cooking with my husband and traveling.
Right now we live in Germany and I feel very grateful for this unique opportunity.
Stacy: Tell me when you first realized that you had an issue with your jaw?
Kristen: I went to my dentist for a routine appointment and she told me she
noticed that I had some cracks in my 2 back molars……she said I would need crowns.
We scheduled to start the work a few weeks later, after the work was started
my TMJ started immediately. My bite is still not corrected and I have pretty bad
muscle issues:( I also have a pretty bad problem with grinding my teeth,
but I”ve done that since I was a child.
Stacy: When did you start having issues that made you realize that
something was wrong?
Kristen: After about 3 months I started to realize that my TMJ was not going to
just go away.
Stacy: When did you first go to the doctor and what type of doctor? (go through
step by step the doctors you went to, what they said, what treatment
they recommended, and did it help)
Kristen: I found another dentist and made an appointment. I did a lot of research
during this time. My new dentist took 2 moulds of my teeth, a CT scan, and made
me a nightguard, he also checked my bite with a T-scan and put the molds on an
articulator. He said he wanted to see if the nightguards would help my muscle
pain/spasms. It did a good job for awhile but it hasn’t been a permanent fix.
In the middle of my treatment we got the opportunity to move to Germany.
I didn’t think it would be a big deal because I had my nightguards and knew
when to use self help tips. I’ve been doing ok for about 1 1/2yrs but I’m
still researching other treatment methods because the problem is still
there and it’s getting bigger.
Stacy: Where are you now in your treatment and is it helping?
Kristen: Right now I’m working with my regular doctors to do a sleep study
for my bruxism, I have a sleep disorder called a parsomnia and it causes me
to grind my teeth pretty badly. I have also done a new CT scan(thankfully my
joints look ok) and I’m awaiting an appt to get an MRI. For now I’m taking
medication for sleeping to help calm my bruxism. I’ve also had a new nightguard
made here that my german dentist did for me. All the while I’ve been
researching ideas to help me stop grinding and I came across something called Grindcare.
It’s FDA approved and it’s been in Europe for a number of years already. I’ve made
an appt to rent a system for 4 weeks to see how badly I clench/grind and hopefully
for the machine to help me seriously cut back on doing it. I go for that appt
on September 23rd……..keeping my fingers crossed it helps. After I hopefully
get my grinding/clenching under control I can then work on possibly doing more
extensive TMJ treatment……maybe a different form of splint therapy.
Stacy: When is the first time you realized that you were not alone in your TMD…
what impact did that have on you?
Kristen: Within a few weeks of having muscle pain and my jaw started clicking after
the crowns I immediately went to google and found a few healthcare forums. I found
out pretty quickly that this happens to quite a few people. The best thing I
learned though was to try and just be patient, let things calm down and hopefully
it would either resolve itself OR it would give me time to do more research.
The biggest thing I learned from my reserach and reading about others was how quickly
TMD treatments can go wrong and I didn’t want to rush into anything.
Stacy: How much research have you done on TMD and do you have any tips on that?
Kristen: I’ve done A LOT of research and I’ve found it to be rather confusing
and frustrating. It’s difficult to have faith in an advocacy group that only
tells you to do non reversible treatments or self care tips. I find the lack of
science frustrating BUT I’m also finding that if you dig deep and really look,
there are people being helped, that made me feel good, gave me a glimmer of hope.
Research and being informed, asking questions and being comfortable with your
provider is KEY I think.
Stacy: When did you find TMJ Hope?
Kristen: I can’t remember exactly when I found TMJ HOPE but I remember feeling
relief, happiness when I did find it. For me I believe it was early on, maybe 3-4
months after my TMJ started that I found the group. It was refreshing and inspiring.
The group gave great tips, useful information and allowed open discussion between
patients which is what really helped.
Stacy: Of your overall journey, how do you feel about it? What would you change?
Kristen: Right now I’m still on this journey and I hate it, I’m scared but I also
have a bit of hope.
Stacy: What would you tell a patient just starting their journey?
Kristen: The biggest advice I would give is to try and be patient and research as
much as you can. Do self help tips and things like pain management if needed until
you find a doc or treatment method you might be comfortable with. For most people
this isn’t an emergency in the beginning, so jumping into treatment could be bad.
Stacy: What is your hope for the future for yourself and the TMD community?
Kristen: I hope and pray that I have the ability to find a provider that can truly
help me. I also hope that TMJD treatments become better researched.
Stacy: Thank you Kristen for sharing your story
Kristen: Thanks so much for asking:) TMJ Hope has given me a lot, mainly that I
don’t feel alone and have a safe place to ask honest questions.