Thursday, April 18, 2013


Yeah, I have this.  This isn't my skull, but probably something close to it.  And, sadly, just saying the complete ailment makes my jaw hurt even more.

This didn't grip me overnight, although that's the time where the pain can bother me the most.  You could have hit me with a dinosaur's jawbone when I found out I was a candidate for TMJ.  It happened in the very first dental appointment I had in Los Angeles almost sixteen years ago.  With the wonderful dentist who is still stuck with me up to this very day.

"You grind your teeth."

Well, heck, Doc, that's no way to greet a new patient, is it?  And, by the way, no, I don't.

"Yes, you do.  Your lower teeth have a lot of wear and tear."

Wear and tear?  What are we talking about here?  Radial tires?  And, gee, I knew the ribs at Tony Roma's were a little tough to chew.

"You need to start wearing a nightguard ASAP."

But, it's only twelve noon and, if I wear a nightguard ASAP, it's not nighttime yet.

I was losing the argument fast.  But, once I started wearing the nightguard, there was clear evidence to present to the dental jury.  After a few months of sitting in my mouth for six to seven hours every night, I could see what my dentist was talking about.  The nightguard looked like it had been repeatedly run over by the D train speeding out of the Fordham Road IND station.

My dentist, also demonstrating an amazing ability to be Kreskin, also predicted that, even though I was sporting this nightly hunk of plastic, I'd likely have more problems down the road.

Down the road is here.

About a year ago, I would make noise.  Not the usual cacophony when I have something to say.  No, this was noise when I ate.  You could hear my jaw move and pop.  Who needed Rice Krispies when I was around the breakfast table?  I became a major tourist attraction in the same way people would flock to see that geyser shoot water into the air.  

My jaw popping was that audible to dinner companions.  Sometimes, it was so loud that you'd need Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones to eat a steak with me.

And, then suddenly, it all stopped.


After several months of sounding like an aircraft factory during World War II, things around my jaw became painfully quiet.  Yes, painful.  Because, once the jaw clicking stopped, pain set into my jaw muscles on the left side of my face.   Most notably at night.  If I lay on my stomach to watch TV before I went to bed, I could lean on my chin.  Pain would start to shoot out like that aforementioned geyser.  

Suddenly, I wanted to have that annoying jaw noise back.  That didn't hurt.

I finally went back to my dentist.  For treatment and also the ceremony where we again salute him for being correct sixteen years ago.  He decided that my nightguard needed to be replaced.  And he came up with this amazing diagnosis.

All the time when my jaw was popping, it was effectively dislocated.  Gee, had I known that I would have tried to use this affliction to get out of my last jury duty stint.  But, according to my dentist, the jaw clicked back into place.  All by itself.  Except now, the muscles that were used to working in one direction are now being challenged in new ways.

So, there are ways to deal with this.  Warm and moist compresses.  Okay, after several weeks, um......not working.  My next option is physical therapy where my terrific therapist Suzie, who previously dealt with my knee, now works on the muscles further up north.   

From inside my mouth.  Luckily, Suzie has pretty small hands.  Because, despite what you hear, my mouth isn't really that big.  And, as is usually the case when Suzie gets a hold of some part of my body, I feel much better.  And one of the homework assignments is to keep sticking my tongue out.  Knowing some of the people I do, this is clearly a fun part of my day.

See, aren't you glad you asked?  Oh, wait, you didn't.  Well, that's what happen when you come to this site.  Where my life is an open blog.

Dinner last night:  Chicken stir fry.

Tomorrow, my jaw and I come to you from New York.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Use this for a character. He has to stick his tongue out and people don't know why. They're offended and stick out their own tongues.