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Orthodontics relieves more than 40 years of head, neck pain.
Massachusetts native Nancy Hintlian has never had a fear of dentists. Good thing, too, because the now-retired school teacher and yoga instructor has had to deal with more than her share of them across her 68 years.
In addition to seeing dentists regularly for routine checkups and maintenance, Nancy has spent a lot of time in the care of dental specialists, most of whom tried in vain to erase the head and neck pain caused by her bout with temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD.
“I’ve had TMD since I was about twenty-two,” Nancy relates. “I didn’t know that at the time, but I was having these horrible, severe headaches. They were so bad that I thought I had a brain tumor. But the doctor I went to see told me the problem was an orthodontic thing.
“That doctor sent me to a dental specialist who told me the problem was that my wisdom teeth had grown into my head and sinuses, and I also had TMD that had not been treated. He said the TMD was what was causing all of the headaches.”
Temporomandibular disorders occur when the jaw joint, which is the hinge that connects the jawbone to the temporal bones on each side of the skull, does not move either up or down or from side to side properly when a person speaks, eats or yawns.
TMD is sometimes the result of an injury to the jaw or the muscles in a person’s head or neck, but it can also develop naturally. In all cases, TMD disorders can be the cause of mild to severe pain in the face and jaw as well as the kind of headaches Nancy experienced.
In some of the more severe cases, the jaw can even become locked in the open or closed position. A clicking sound coming from the jawbone is sometimes associated with the dysfunction of the temporomandibular joints as well.
Doctors emphasize that none of the symptoms associated with TMD are considered life-threatening. Nancy, however, can attest to the fact that TMD can indeed take a healthy bite out of someone’s quality of life.
“It has been a longstanding problem for me, even though it was treated many years ago,” Nancy explains. “I was given a bite plate, which is like a retainer, and I was told to do some exercises, but none of that really worked.
“I was never really comfortable, whether I had my retainer in or not, and over time, I developed a huge slide in my jaw that you could actually see when I spoke. When I opened my mouth to speak or eat, my jaw would actually slide to one side.”
Having lived with the problem for more than 40 years, Nancy thought her TMD was irreparable. She found out differently after she moved to Florida a few years ago and chose Naved Fatmi, DMD, of Regency Court Dentistry as her new dentist.
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