Friday, June 06, 2008

TMJ: A Rant

We had such a bad sleep last night.

First, it was so humid that the sheets felt damp. Then the raccoons started fighting. I think they get bitchy when it’s this humid.

Then at about 3am, a kid kicked one of those 18 liter water bottles (empty) down the entire slope of our street. Half awake, I sincerely thought it was gunshots.

Then of course Kiwi-the-cat wanted to go out. Then he got into a fight so we let him back in. Then he howled to go back out. And all this punctuated by Charlie-the-dog, click-click-click up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs, down the stairs, "huff. Phuff. HUFF!” (her Raccoon Alert siren).

Sigh.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t my very first night with the new appliance. I finally got my hands on it yesterday. It's to treat my constant companion, TMJ Dysfunction. And I have to say, I woke up relatively pain-free for the first time in, oh, years. Thanks to this little bit of molded plastic and wire. Sure my front teeth don’t seem to meet this morning, but I don’t care. It’s worth it.

Did you know that there 90% of TMJ sufferers are women? No one seems to know why. TMJ dysfunction is not something anyone anywhere is really studying. In fact, if you have a problem with this, the most complex joint in your body, you typically get sent to your orthodontist. Which you pay for. Thousands of dollars for treatments that have never been proven successful, have never been properly studied. Since this really is a joint problem, not a tooth problem, all the orthos can do is help you ‘manage’. Wires and plastic.

I just knew that it felt different this time. Something is getting worse. So I said "what the heck! I deserve it!" and treated myself to a CT scan. And it came back showing an “osteoma on the right condyle.”
“Osteoma?”
“A tumor. On the bone in your jaw. Usually benign.”
“Wow. Oh wow." Pause. "But benign means no big deal, right?”
“Well… we should get MRI’s done.”
“But if you’re saying it’s no big deal….”
“We should take a look.”
“Okay. But I’m going back to SK in a month, so….”
“Well, I consider this urgent, so we’ll try to get you in as soon as possible.”
Urgent is not a word you want to hear in relation to "tumor". Please, please, please make it be that they're just overly cautious!
Then he adds, “But your MD is clearly on board. So OHIP should cover it.” Well thank Christ for small favours.

What I want to know is, what would have happened if I hadn’t been able to pay for my own tests for this “tooth problem”?

posted by Working From Home Today
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10 comments:

Blogger bstockton ~ 5:36 PM

First of all, it has been a cool summer so far in the queen city so I've been complaining a bit. I will stop complaining now knowing that you have a humidex of 38. I hope I never have to feel what that's like ever again.

Second, I had a cyst in my jaw that I love to talk about. The surgeon called it a tumour at one point, which I think is probably the proper word but they don't like to use it because people get scared. Whatever is, it's probably benign like mine was.

Third, there is a very weird grey area with oral surgery. My oral surgeon (in Yorkville I forget his name) also practiced at a hospital where he sent me for a CT scan, covered by OHIP. He did the surgery in his office, which was okay with me because I had a good dental plan, but I suspect if I insisted he could have done it at his hospital and OHIP would have covered it.

Or, if you go to your GP and get a referral to an oral surgeon, I suspect that would be covered by OHIP.  


Blogger Working From Home Today ~ 4:31 PM

This is very interesting, Brian. Mine is a growth on the bone itsel - is that what you had?  


Anonymous James ~ 9:50 PM

Let me try and help.

Brian is one big tumor. He was detached from a 58 year old truck stop waitress 40 odd years ago. They said he was benign then and I have to agree.  


Blogger bstockton ~ 9:33 AM

Mine was a liquidy conflagration, with a chewy nuget centre. Okay, not really, but I gather it was mostly liquidy. It was not attached to the bone per se, but it grew and devoured part of my jaw bone. He shrank the cyst by putting in a draining tube, and most of the bone grew back.  


Blogger James ~ 11:06 AM

Brian, that's disgustipating.

My cyst was a sac for puss to collect in. It occasionally grew due to infection. But I don't see how anything liquidy could eat a bone. Further, how can a bone grow back?

What planet are you from?  


Anonymous Been there..... ~ 11:40 AM

My son had a "benign" tumor of his jaw which turned out to be an ameloblastoma. We too were told it was probably a "cyst"....but it turned out to be the 1% of jaw tumors that are ameloblatomas which are benign but very aggressive. The dissolve bone and tissue as they grow. If every tumor cell is not removed, the tumor comes back 90+ percent of the time.

Because they grow fairly slowly, they do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation. The only treatment is radical surgery which removes the tumor and 1 to 1.5 cm of healthy tissue surrounding it. My son had his upper right jawbone (along with 5 teeth) from the eye tooth back, 1/3rd of the roof of his mouth, sinus bone and some cheek tissue removed. He has had about 7 surgeries over the last 5 years and a final (hopefully minor) surgery to be done this summer to finish the reconstruction.

Benign doesn't mean easy or harmless.

Best wishes for your situation. I hope it is truly a minor deal.  


Blogger Working From Home Today ~ 11:50 AM

Gulp.  


Blogger bstockton ~ 2:09 PM

The doctor called mine a 'corrodic cyst' but I've just been googling and have not been able to find the correct spelling or the correct term. Next time I have something serious I will ask how it's spelled.

But yes, it did dissolve part of my jaw bone. They had to put the tube in to shrink the cyst, otherwise my jaw would have broken while trying to remove my wisdom tooth, which had gotten pushed way down by the cyst. It's a procedure he learned in Israel called marsupialization, and he asked me if he could take pictures of my mouth to use in lectures about the procedure.

The tube was in my mouth for a year and half, bone grew back, and he dug out my wisdom tooth, plus the other three while he was at it.

I have to get my jaw checked every year to make sure it doesn't grow back.  


Blogger notquiteawake ~ 4:22 PM

Well, after reading "been there" I was wondering why someone would post that because it's kind of frightening and, after being in the same place you were a few months back, I know that doesn't help that much. So, I will say that 1% is a very small number and I have full confidence that you will be fine. Whatever it is, it seems like you caught it early enough. I'll be thinking of you and please post as soon as you find out!  


Anonymous Corey ~ 12:37 PM

Wow Monica, like don't like any of those replies on your posting. I go next week to see an oral surgeon and hopefully find out what kind of cyst /tumor I have. I was hoping for the good old drain and scrape removal, but at least I am now aware of other possibilities.

I am glad your TMJ is coming along better. I use to suffer from that as well. My bite was corrected with surgery about 15 years ago, where a surgeon in Saskatoon broke and realigned my jaw. It might have helped my TMJ some but has since created troublesome issues.

My complaints are nothing compared to Been There's son's situation, so I will just keep my broken tumor filled mouth shut.  


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