Click. Pop. Ouch! If left untreated, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder can be painful and uncomfortable. But what if you can’t afford treatment from a dentist?
Annoying TMJ Symptoms
You’re probably already experiencing the signs and symptoms of TMJ:
- Jaw stiffness, clicking, locking, or popping
- Ringing in your ears
- Chronic head or neck pain
Treatment from a dentist can relieve the symptoms, but how will TMJ affect your life if you can’t afford a dentist?
How Will It Impact Your Life?
Jaw pain can limit your ability to chew well—and that affects your digestion. If speaking or laughing become uncomfortable, it can affect your mood. Ringing in the ears and head or neck pain throughout the night will disturb your sleep. And lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
What If You Can’t Afford a Dentist?
Dental treatment might not be as expensive, invasive, or time-consuming as you think. A June 2019 study published in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology reveals some good news. The study included 162 patients who suffered from chronic TMJ disorder. Treatment of the symptoms included self-awareness therapy, jaw exercises, and the use of custom oral appliances. After 20 months of treatment, what were the results?
- Pain – After treatment, the average pain score fell from 6.9 to 2.0.
- Chewing – Most patients benefited from a large reduction in pain while chewing.
- Quality of life – The overall quality of life for the patients improved.
Three Keys to Relief
The patients in the study received meaningful improvement and significant relief of their symptoms. What were the three keys to relief?
- Self-awareness of your oral habits
- A custom oral appliance
That might be all that’s needed to decrease your pain and discomfort and improve your quality of life.
So What’s the Cost?
If you have dental insurance, you’ll save money on the cost of care. The cost of relieving your symptoms is more affordable than you might think. Even out-of-pocket costs are more manageable if you find a dentist who offers payment plans.
Occlusal guard (mouth guard/oral appliance) – Depending on where you live in the country, the out-of-pocket cost for an oral appliance to relax your jaw is $600-$800. Some insurance plans pay half of the cost or more.
Exercises – Your dentist will show you exercises that you can do at home to loosen your jaw muscles and increase your comfort.
Self- Awareness – Oral health habits, including grinding your teeth, the position of your tongue and jaw when at rest, or holding your head or face with your hands, can affect your jaw health. As you learn what habits trigger pain, it will increase your awareness of your habits and help you control them and your discomfort.
Treatment Delays Are Costly
If you think you can’t afford dental care, the delays in getting treatment will make the condition worse. When the pain and discomfort become unbearable, that means the problems have progressed. And dental care will cost you even more money in the long term. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with a dentist who has training and experience in TMJ diagnosis and treatment.
Plano, TX dentist Miranda Lacy, DDS sponsors this blog. Dr. Lacy offers payment plans and financing to help make dental care affordable for you.