“I don’t remember when it started. But it’s safe to say that I have had TMJ for a long time… for most of my life.
I had it long before I had a name for it. It was simply that clicky-jaw-thing. And by clicky-jaw-thing, I mean that thing when you yawn or chew or laugh really hard and your jaw pops… loudly. And someone near you says, “What was that?!” And then you say, “Oh… that was my jaw.” Not so much topic of conversation and pretty humiliating.
The clicky-jaw-thing stuck around through all of high school and into college before I knew that there was actually a technical term for it. I finally asked the dentist about it and he said that the clicking was caused by a Temporomandibular Joint disorder, or TMJ. Basically, he said that my jaw was out of line. He suggested a night mouth guard because TMJ can sometimes be caused by nighttime teeth grinding and I was a confirmed teeth grinder.
Over the years, I used a mouth guard from the dentist, bought several from different drug stores, and had another made by a different dentist. They made me talk funny and drool more, but none of them magically aligned my jaw.
At this point, over ten years ago, my dentist was out of options that didn’t require surgery. I had no intention of getting jaw surgery and at some point in the last decade I had simply resigned myself to the fact that I would be stuck with TMJ for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, this acceptance included frequent headaches, many doses of ibuprofen, and the all too familiar clicky-jaw-thing.
About six months ago we started seeing Dr. Paul Baker. My husband stumbled upon his name (and by stumbled, I mean divine intervention) and went in for an issue he was having with his back and within a few weeks, our daughters and I were also patients. After the back x-rays were taken, the consultation, and the adjustments, I was feeling great, but it didn’t even dawn on me to bring up the TMJ. He’s a chiropractor, not a dentist… right?
But then I saw him working on a young woman’s jaw. And then I heard another young woman tell him how much better her TMJ has been. I nearly cried. I asked Dr. Paul if he worked on TMJ… of course he does! It’s been about three months since he started working on my jaw— just a few minutes after each adjustment— and it has already made a remarkable difference!
I used to get headaches every day. Every day. Many of them would start in my jaw and work their way up to my temples. Frequently I would wake up with a searing headache that was lodged primarily in my jaw.
That is a rare occurrence these days. I rarely have headaches and when I do they are slight not severe. My jaw still clicks, but it doesn’t send the jolt of pain that it used to. And I have a larger range of motion… which is to say, I can open my mouth wider without the clicking and the hurting.
The pain lifted steadily. It was a release and an overwhelming relief. As I look back, it is baffling that I had accepted that level of discomfort. But when it started to recede and then go away completely, it was like an entirely new life. Having lived with constant pain and to then watch it disappear, I began to realize just how stressful and all-consuming living with that agony had been. The lightness, relief, and joy that come from its lifting are life changing.
Finding Baker Chiropractic and Wellness, Dr. Paul, and the entire staff has changed the lives of our entire family. We are healthier, happier, and we feel better than ever! Occasionally I imagine how much Advil it would have taken to get through my life with TMJ, or I think about having to endure a painful jaw surgery or wear some contraption on my face every night while I sleep… and each time I send up a silent prayer for Dr. Paul and the path that led us to him.”
– Heather M.