It all began with a car accident. Or at least, that is the way it felt. I was involved in an accident in 2010 in which I was rear-ended, and then a second incident when my entire family was on the way home from dinner, and we met a deer out on a country road! We braked, but the poor deer met its end that day. Within a week or so, my neck was hurting, my jaw hurt, my temple hurt, pretty much everything hurt! I went from one doctor to the next and mentioned my troubles to Dr. Chapman when I brought my son in for his appointment. I also mentioned that I seemed to be clenching my teeth at night (actually even during the day.) He said I should schedule an appointment immediately as he suspected there was more to the picture than just a sore neck. After a detailed examination, including x-rays and a photo shoot of my mouth (you don’t feel pretty until you’ve seen a giant closeup of your teeth!), Dr. Chapman told me that I had all the classic symptoms of TMJ disorder. The shape of my jaw, my profile, even the spacing between my teeth were indicators that I had a condition that I didn’t know much about. The car accident was probably the straw that broke the camels back – in this case, my poor jaw and bite were working against me every moment of the day.
Dr. Chapman wanted to get rid of my headaches right off the bat. He said that what we were going to do was realign my bite which was causing much of the issues with my headaches and jaw pain. Sooo, he told me that I got to wear a lovely splint (kind of like a retainer) that would slowly, over time, get my bite to where it was supposed to be all along. Once my bite was corrected, I would need to wear braces to get my teeth into the proper position with my realigned jaw. ”Super,” I thought, picturing a hideous retainer type of contraption. Luckily, my splint was nothing more than a piece of clear plastic molded to fit my teeth perfectly. The staff in his office were very helpful in describing the process as they had worn splints themselves! I made an appointment to get my splint and wondered how in the heck I was going to talk with the hunk of plastic in my mouth! Next up – what it’s like to wear a splint!