Hi, my name is Ashley. I am 24 years old turning 25 in February. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I have been known to excel and do what my heart desires. I was about 9 years young when all of a sudden I opened my mouth and heard a slightly loud pop. I was young, so I simply ignored it, and thought it was nothing but growing pains.
At about age 18, my jaw began getting worse just as I was graduating from high school. I was referred to see an oral surgeon. He made me a hard splint. The splint helped for about 2 years. At age 23 my pain really started to kick in, and my teeth kept shifting.
My boyfriend at the time was unsupportive. To make things worse, neither was his family, and some of my friends were even quite rude. I've been dealing with this since I was 9 years old all the way until now. I have had 3 splints made, including a special one called an "NTI" splint. Splints are not made for long-term use! Nobody ever told me this, and my teeth were moving everywhere especially when I am so young. I have a few health problems such as chronic migraines, a bad heart, and a past history of epilepsy, but I doubt that would contribute to the TMD.
As a chronic pain sufferer I became so desperate I spent over $600 alone on splints! I have tried chiropractic treatment, physical therapy, and ice on my jaw. I have been to at least 3 pain clinics that have been unable to help me. I have even let the doctors inject my face with shots several times, and the pain got worse for almost a whole month! The pain was supposed to go away for at least 6 hours, but the relief lasted for only about 3-4 hours. I am undergoing orthodontic treatment because I have been evaluated many times by physicians, my oral surgeon, dentists, orthodontists, holistic doctors, etc. They all told me to get braces to alleviate the pain.
I am still under A LOT of pain on a daily basis. I barely get any sleep every day; I can barely talk on the phone sometimes. I love singing and cannot sing due to pain. I limit excessive talking and struggle to even take medicine since swallowing is difficult, etc. I am very leery of considering surgery because I have heard nothing but terrible things, and a good outcome is now guaranteed. From my experience and knowledge about living with TMD I urge everyone to make copies of TMD diagrams, educate people, telling them as much as you know based on research and more importantly how YOU live with pain each and EVERYDAY.
I am only 24 years old, and I have to give up so many foods because of how I chew or how difficult it is for me; I don't even like to go out anymore. I feel as if this is taking over my life. The doctors need to step in and really learn how deadly this illness is.
Please consider sharing your TMD experience with the larger community. The voice of the patients and loved ones is very important for all of us to hear. The TMJA values receiving this information as it impacts the work that we do. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.