Last week I wrote about how my night guard came loose during the night. There were 4 days when I couldn’t wear it until I could go to the dentist to get it adjusted. The first night I didn’t wear any type of guard, and then the next few nights I wore an old “aqualizer” which I thought would be better than nothing.
After the first night I started to feel a slight pain in tooth number 18, my back molar on the left side. I had the wisdom tooth behind it removed almost 3 years ago, and there still seems to be a small gap between that tooth and the gum.
Needles to say, the pain kept increasing. TMJ pain from clenching, I believe, by made worse by the Atypical Odontalgia. Over the past few days it has spread down my neck, up into my ear, into my shoulder, down my arm, and even a little further. That’s muscle/nerve pain for you. Very frustrating. So now, even though I am wearing the night guard, the pain persists. I’m hoping it will keep getting better instead of getting better overnight and then creeping back in as the day goes on.
I’ve decided to carry the night guard around with me in my purse and wear it during the day when I am doing things that don’t involve talking (not very frequently). I’ve realized the TMJ and AO is a deadly mix! Even last night, I was nodding off while watching a movie, and I noticed myself clenching in the same area where that tooth is! Ahhh! Gotta wear it all the time!
Thursday night/Friday morning I was having a dream that I was riding in the backseat of a car, and two other people in the car were becoming violently ill out the windows of the car. Gross, I know. However, I am one of those people that starts to feel nauseous when I see other people vomiting. In my dream, I was starting to gag and trying to stop myself from throwing up.
When I woke up I noticed that my night guard (a small devise I wear over my two front teeth to prevent me from clenching my jaw — yes I have TMJ too) was not in my mouth! At first I started to freak out that I swallowed it, but then realized that if I had I probably would have choked on it (It’s small, but probably just big enough to choke me!) I started searching for it and found it on the floor next to my bed.
I later realized that it had probably fallen off of my teeth and I was beginning to gag on it. The dream about gagging probably saved me! This is extremely alarming to me, as I don’t want to choke on something that is supposed to be helping me! I called the dentist and they will be seeing me to resize it on Tuesday. Until then, I can’t wear it. Friday night, I went without it and had HORRIBLE pain on the left side of my face/teeth/neck the entire next day. That was bad! Last night (saturday) I found one of my temporary night guards (called an equalizer) and put that in. I still had a bit of pain, but not nearly as bad as Saturday!
I hope that they will be able to successfully resize the night guard and convince me that I won’t choke on it in the future! Scary stuff!
In other news, aside from Saturday when I had bad pain after not wearing the night guard, I have been almost entirely pain free! I’m so happy about this! I have been noticing my lack of conscious choices about eating/chewing! This means that I’m no longer thinking “I can’t eat that, it will cause me pain!” or “chew on left size, chew on right side!” I’m eating like a normal person! YAY!
Today was one of those rare days where I woke up with NO PAIN! It’s a fabulous feeling. It’s a pity that I also woke up with an EXTREMELY congested nose! I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and drips that just kept getting worse. I worried that the sinus pressure would make my top teeth hurt, as it has done that in the past, but today is okay (for now!) More later…
I am almost afraid to say this, but there is not much to report. The last 3 days have been for the most part, pain-free! I have had little bursts of pain each day, but nothing unbearable. The have been dealt with through the means of orajel (I am keeping them and sensodyne in business!), aleve, or my medications (that goes without saying). Moving forward and progressing. Learning how to deal with the small pains so that they don’t get worse. I think not stressing out is the most important thing.
And now, off to a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner cooked by my WONDERFUL boyfriend, Andy!
Not much to report today, but not much pain, so that’s good! It could be because I didn’t eat a lot today or talk a lot today (weekends working on grad school will do that for you) and less jaw movement means less pain? I’m still figuring it out. Of course, I haven’t had dinner yet, and I’ve found the pain to be worse at night, so this too could all change. The pain seems to maybe be migrating to the right side again now. This has been the constant battle: pain on the left side means chewing on the right side, which causes pain on the right side and chewing on the left side. Perhaps it’s back to protein shakes for sustenance. It seriously isn’t that bad right now. Lesson learned again maybe? Just fight through the pain, realize it’s all related to the AO, and don’t freak out that there is some other pathological problem. At this point i’m starting to think if I had an abscess or something else that the pain would be constant…and it isn’t anymore. Here’s hoping…
I feel like I am going to regret saying this, but so far today I am feeling a little better. I made a point of sleeping on my right side (even though I prefer to sleep on the left) since the pain was getting pretty bad on the left. I woke up and my jaw wasn’t hurting as bad. This morning was a lot better, until I played recorder briefly in music class to demonstrate something for my students…then the sensitivity to air around tooth 18 or 19 (not sure which yet) started back up again. I hate that it hurts me to play a wind instrument, when of course that is my specialty!
All in all though, things seem better today…however, that is how it’s been the last two days: okay in the morning, and then worse and worse as the day goes on. I read on this blog I have been reading for Trigeminal Neuralgia— or TN (a closely related condition) that caffeine/tea can be a trigger. I have found that a lot of triggers for TN trigger my pain too (sweets, crunchy food) are also triggers for me). Of course, on my “Friday, treat myself to starbucks day” they acidentally gave me a pumpkin spice latte instead of a pumpkin spice chai, and I didn’t realize it until I was too far away to go back. Of course, I stupidly drank it. More caffeine for me…and if I think about it…that’s when the pain started to come back. But really, it’s been any time I eat or drink.
However, if this is as bad as it gets today, I can live with that. Much better than yesterday when I was in such pain that my whole left side jaw (top and bottom) as well as the teeth along it hurt. And the side of my face hurt. And my eye hurt. I’ll deal with one or two teeth hurting a bit. At the same time, I’m also thinking again about seeing a Neurologist — although I’m not sure it would help at all.
My Name is Jackie. I am 26 years old. I was diagnosed with Atypical Odontalgia (AO) on Thanksgiving Day, 2011. I’m hoping that this blog will help me to reach out to those with AO and similar facial pain conditions, as well as to help those people find someone to support them.
AO is a rare neurological condition in which your teeth hurt, but there is not “dental” reason for the pain. To greatly simplify the condition, AO is like VERY oversensitive nerves in and around the teeth. Simple things that would not normally cause any pain at all can cause intense and agonizing pain. You can read more about the condition here.
AO is difficult to diagnose. There is no definitive test for the condition. You can’t just take an x-ray, MRI, or CAT-scan and say “Yup, that’s AO.” It doesn’t work that way. My WONDERFUL DENTIST, Dr. Steven Denholtz, explained to me that Atypical Odontalgia is a “diagnosis of omission.” After ruling out any pathological means for the pain using x-rays, descriptions of the pain, and dental tests a diagnosis of the pain can be made by a professional. I am NOT pretending to be one. I am merely a patient who is reaching out to others who may be in the same boat as me.
Some patients with AO go for months or even years before being diagnosed. Many go through needless and painful procedures such as root canals or extractions and still find that they are in pain. I can tell you from experience that a root canal will not make your pain go away if you suffer from AO! It’s an amazing (and not the good kind of amazing!) experience to feel pain in a tooth that literally has no nerve. I am blessed with an extremely patient, caring, and professional dentist who was able to diagnose my condition after about a month. I am eternally thankful that I did not have to experience as much needless pain as many sufferers do!
I will be using this blog as a personal journal of my own symptoms. Although I am being treated and am improving slowly but surely, I still have outburst of pain. It’s very frustrating. Each time I experience the pain, it makes me nervous. When the pain comes, it is hard to believe that there is “nothing” pathologically wrong with the teeth (even though I know from past experience that everything is probably ok!).
The worst part (for me) about AO is that once you are diagnosed, the orders are to stop any dental work, immediately! I was diagnosed after 2 root canals were completed, but before the crowns were put on! It makes me nervous to chew on those teeth knowing they are not as strong as they could be with the protection of crowns. I have been told not to worry, but I was blessed with the “worrying gene!” Also, each time I feel the pain, I worry that there actually is some kind of pathological problem (cavity, abscess, etc.) and that I will not be able to get it fixed because of the AO.
And so I carry on. I try to live one day at a time, but there are still days (like today) when I need to stop and shed a few tears. Luckily, I have a loving and supportive family, and wonderful boyfriend, understanding bosses and co-workers, and an AWESOME dentist!
I hope this blog will not only help me and my family to keep track of my pain, but also will help some other patients out there to find a support group! There is surprisingly little information out there about this condition!
A dental numbering chart, used for reference in this blog.