Problems with jaw, face pain and tinnitus - some advice please

Posted , 3 users are following.

I could do with some advice, please. I have a chronic jaw problem. I am a clencher in my sleep, dentist told me I had worn teeth and I have, in the past year, broken a few teeth. He built me a nightguard a year ago, which I am wearing. I have bitten a hole in it on the left hand side. 

Since I started training with a personal trainer and experienced a couple of very stressful events in my life over the past year my symptoms have got worse. I have bad tinnitus (buzzing type) in both ears, jaw, neck and shoulder pain on the left, face ache, pain in temples and tight scalp. The tinnitus used to come and go but is now constant. Sometimes loud and sometimes much less so. My dentist isn't a specialist. Six months ag he told me I needed to see my GP and when I did the GP was unsympathetic. He said "What does your dentist expect me to do about it?" and "tinnitus is difficult to treat, sounds like it is coming from your jaws". No treatment was offered.

I dont know what to do. As it has got worse since I saw GP and dentist six months ago, I cant go on like this but I dont know whether to go back to the dentist or see the GP again. How would I find a dentist who is expert in TMJ? They all say they work on TMJ but do they really know anything about it. I am worried I have damaged my jaw joint.  

Some advice would help, it's starting to make me feel really low. 

Jen

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Jen, Can you get yourself referred to the maxillofacial department of a hospital? They'd be the experts on TMJ. Sorry to hear you're having such a bad time.

    I used to be a nurse in the NHS (aeons ago) and in those days the law said that if a patient really insisted on a specialist referral the GP couldn't refuse. I believe that is still true these days, but of course there'll be much more resistance with all the cuts going on now. I think a dentist can also make this kind of referral in the UK (if that's where you are) but I'm not quite sure about that.

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    • Posted

      Hi Lily, thanks very much for the advice. I am in the UK, It is easier to get an appointment with my GP than it is my dentist (I can see my GP this week, but it's three weeks for the dentist unless it's an emergency), so I will go back to GP and insist on a referral. That's probably the best thing to do.

      Jen

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    • Posted

      I don't like to suggest this, but if all else fails you could always present in A&E and hype up your symptoms a bit. But preferably at a major hospital where they'd actually have an M-F dept, not a small community hospital. I think this is a wrong use of the NHS's over-stretched A&E resources, but sometimes the system leaves people very little choice.

      Good luck with whatever you decide to do! I hope something works out for you.

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  • Posted

    hello janey

    just a word in support of what lily's said - max-fax is definitely the way to go! having had tmj issues since 1984, a temperomandibular condylectomy in '86 and finally a total tmj replacement in 2015 i actually want to say "chin up" (if you'll excuse the pun); make it through the 'undergrowth' to the dept. of oral & maxillofacial surgery, get seen by an orthomaxillofacial consultant and whatever the outcome you'll be on the right path.. if you need redirecting because it turns out not to be their 'thing' they'll do so.

    gp's, dentists - they'll have opinions but the reality is it's a specialist area and you sound like you need to see a specialist!

    i can't speak for how your lot are but without exception every person i've seen, from consultant to 'front desk' has been beyond five star lovely - and they're used to seeing people who've had to climb mountains in order to reach their door.

    i can't commend them enough - nor send you enough best wishes and good luck with what's ahead.

    p.s.  with the last surgery i had a spectacularly positive result, so clearly they CAN get it right!   biggrin

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  • Posted

    Hi Mo-Jas and Lily

    Just an update - thanks Mo-Jas for your comments and support. Just to let you know that I went back to the dentist again. He admitted that he had done just about all he could to help me by making the hard night splint so he offered to make a referral to a maxfac department, which I accepted. He told me that in the area of the UK where I live the waiting time for someone without red flag symptoms is 9 months, so I have decided to use some of my savings to get a private consultation. I just can't wait that long, it's affecting my ability to work, exercise and sleep at the moment. The referral has gone to a consultant who is a qualified dentist and maxfac doctor/surgeon who practices out of the biggest hospital in our area so I hope he will be able to help. I just need to phone him and make an appointment.

    To be honest, I am not sure whether I have problems in my neck that are causing problems in my jaw, or whether it's the other way around. My dentist definitely thinks malocclusion is a factor and also stress related grinding/clenching. I just want to get to the bottom of it. The advice you get on the web about TMD is conflicting and confusing and I find myself getting stressed just reading it. If I can just get a diagnosis I'll be able to do the right things to care for it, even if I can't cure it. My dentist thinks a cure is unlikely, but reducing the pain and tinnitus with good management is a real possibility.

    Will keep you both posted. Thanks again both for your support.

    Jen

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    • Posted

      Hi Jen,

      Glad to hear that things are moving! Whichever way round things are - neck or jaw - a maxfac specialist should be able to point you in the right direction. Look forward to hearing your news!

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  • Posted

    Hi all, 

    Further update...........I saw a consultant dentist/maxfac at my local hospital yesterday. He examined me thoroughly, I have had a panoramic x ray of my jaws and he looked at my teeth. He said my jaw was ok, that it was moving well and that the pain I was experiencing was muscular in origin.  He has diagnosed me with myofascial pain syndrome due to teeth grinding, clenching and poor posture. He has given me some recommendations for treatment. He has also advised me to get my hearing tested because of the tinnitus in both ears. Have got an appointment for a one hour hearing test and will take it from there.

    Feel a bit more relieved

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    • Posted

      hi there jen..

      such good news you bring; all sounding so much more positive than it looked 10 days ago ..said max-fax types were good but it was a brave decision to chance going private ..even tho, faced with a 9 month wait you must have felt you had little choice.  seems you got to see someone who knows their onions ..(or tmj's)

      good luck with the next steps!

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