5 Reasons Why I Hate TMJ
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Health and Wellness

5 Reasons Why I Hate TMJ

5 Reasons Why I Hate TMJ

During junior year of high school, my mother alerted me to the fact that I had been grinding my teeth in the night. She grumbled at me and told me to wear my night guard, and I tried to wear it as much as I could remember to. Around this time, my jaw would begin to tense up and click. I could always "unlock" it to free range, until one day, I woke up and I couldn't open it more than half way of my normal range.

I was diagnosed with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) soon after. TMJ can occur if, according to the Mayo Clinic, "The disk erodes or moves out of its proper alignment. The joint's cartilage is damaged by arthritis. The joint is damaged by a blow or other impact." The disk of which they speak is one that absorbs shock, and is in the joint/hinge of your jaw. After my diagnosis, I was sent to physical therapy to help me regain my range of movement, The doctor there explained that my disk had slipped, and that this was a chronic condition that I would have for the rest of my life.

Having lived with this condition for three years now, I have a lot of complaints about it. I will share now what I hate the most about living with TMJ.

1. Waking up with a locked jaw.

In my case, I have periods of free range movement where I can open my jaw all the way, and I relish those. However, all good things must come to an end. Once my jaw starts clicking again, I know it's only a matter of time until I wake up and my jaw is completely locked. At its worst, I am only able to open my jaw to about a third of its full range. It's defeating and upsetting to begin a period of lockjaw.

2. The period of lockjaw can go on...for months.

In my longest case of lockjaw, I forgot what it was like to be able to open my jaw fully, so when I began to regain some motion, I didn't know what "normal" was anymore. My longest period without full use of my jaw was about 4 months, four painful months.

3. The pain.

Lockjaw is so painful. When I open my jaw to yawn, it hurts. When I try to sing with full, tall vowels, it hurts. Eating a burger, sandwich, or bagel? Forget about it. I would describe it as a horribly sore muscle, but also a tightness when I try to open it wider.

4. I can't eat some of my favorite foods.

This is only half true. Even if it looks very sad to see me try to eat a burger, apple, bagel, sandwich...basically anything that isn't less than an inch thick, I still try to eat it because I love them.

5. People don't understand.

Unless someone has experienced TMJ themselves, they can't fully understand how limiting not being able to open your jaw fully truly is. Choir directors are especially guilty of not understanding. In several different instances, I was told to have taller vowels when I was in a period of lockjaw, and was trying to open my jaw my very widest.

I could go on for hours and hours about how much I hate having TMJ, and how it sucks to have an invisible chronic illness that people don't understand, because it's frustrating. I hope that more people will speak about their experiences with TMJ and such conditions, if they feel comfortable.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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