What kind of specialist do I need?
July 17, 2007 11:40 AM Subscribe
What kind of specialist do I need for my jaw/headache problem?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From an early age, my jaw has had no real set "bite". I've had to really strain and concentrate to keep my mouth closed and my lips together. I have to pull my lower jaw back about a centimeter and slightly to the left to create a chewing surface. Because my jaws are relatively narrow, I've often bitten my tongue, and had a bit of a speech impediment growing up (and still stumble when tired). Sometimes food or spittle escapes. Jaw moves back and forth into several different positions all the time, and pops continually and quite audibly. At night I feel like I can't sleep and swallow my saliva at the same time; in fact, I was recently diagnosed with a severe case of Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome last year. The real issue this creates has been chronic serious pain in the head and neck area.
I did have braces for about 18 months when I was much younger; when they came off at age 13, orthodontist told parents that my bite problems (which weren't resolved at all by the braces) that I could end up "looking deformed" as I reached maturity. Due to family dynamics and attitudes towards health care, this became a running joke and not much else. Just like clockwork, at age 17, about the time my facial bones reached full maturity, jaw clicking and chronic pain in face, head and neck area began.
I waited for years to see if this would "resolve itself", and then had it dismissed as psychosomatic, and now I am trying to get it addressed properly. I just got back from an oral surgeon who spent 2 minutes looking at my face, had me bite down on a stick, and said that "nothing was wrong with my jay" based on that inspection. Before that, based on the advice of my sleep specialist, I saw an ENT, who said that because I didn't have any bite mark scars on my tongue, that meant my jaw was fine. What kind of doctor am I actually looking for to run the right kind of tests?
Complicating factor: I currently have only medical insurance, not dental. Orthodontics are not possible (again) in the short term--they would only be covered in the context of a medically necessary surgery. I really just need the pain to stop. I've been down several dead ends with this now and just need to know where to go next.
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