Did I break my face?
August 23, 2012 7:39 AM   Subscribe

10 days after a particularly potent dose of MDMA, I'm experiencing jaw popping and soreness. Can I do something to make this go away or have I caused permanent damage?

- Female, mid-20s, otherwise in good health
- I have taken MDMA (ecstasy) several times before so I am familiar with the jaw grinding effect. Usually I just chew a lot of gum and have a little soreness the next day but nothing else.
- According my dentist I also grind my teeth so I wear a mouthguard at night.
- I also have a bit of chronic oral fixation and chew a lot of gum on a regular basis. Don't know if this matters but I smoke cigarettes as well.
- Despite this I have never experienced jaw popping or soreness like this before.

- Soreness at the edges of my jaw (like beneath the base of my ear)
- Weird popping sensation when I open my jaw
- Uncomfortable feeling that my jaw is "wrong" or that I am on the verge of dislocating it

This started 10 days ago, the morning after I took a particularly high dose of MDMA that made me grind my teeth a lot. The next day my whole face was really quite sore and while it felt better after a couple days, I still have the soreness and the popping.

Did I, like, ruin my jaw from grinding it too much or give myself TMJ that I didn't have before? Is there anything I can do to make it feel better? Is there a chance that I am actually on the verge of dislocating my jaw? Any help is appreciated. (Anti-drug lectures are not, I am phasing drugs out of my life anyway.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Go see your dentist. You do not have to tell him this was a result of MDMA as this doesn't sound like it has anything to do with the direct physiological effects of MDMA (the jaw clenching/grinding was the direct effect.) You can say you had one too many coffees during a stressful day and then just describe what's going on with your jaw.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 7:48 AM on August 23, 2012 [4 favorites]

You need to go to a doctor, and be honest with the doctor about the drug use.
It is foolish to lie to your doctor.

No one on metafilter can answer this question properly.

Do not worry about legal issues - doctor / patient privilege will protect you. Also, there is nothing illegal about having used (in the past) drugs. It is illegal to posses or use (currently) - but having used in the past is not a crime.

Go to the doctor.
posted by Flood at 7:49 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am not a drug user, but I did recently experience an apparently temporary bout of TMJ following a stress-related teeth grinding event. I saw an oral surgeon who took an x-ray to make sure there wasn't a tumor involved, then gave me the sort of boilerplate TMJ advice you'll find with any Google search on the topic. By the time I saw him I'd had symptoms for about 3 weeks, and he told me that this joint can take a while to settle down after it gets inflamed. It took a couple of months to return to something like normal, with the first few weeks involving a lot of ibuprofen.

This is not to say that self-diagnosis is a great idea.
posted by jon1270 at 7:51 AM on August 23, 2012

...doctor / patient privilege will protect you.

It most certainly will not.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 7:53 AM on August 23, 2012 [25 favorites]

As someone who suffers from all the above issues, I have had some luck with chelated magnesium. Google search for chelated magnesium jaw
posted by ill3 at 7:56 AM on August 23, 2012

doctor / patient privilege will protect you

This is horrible advice. All the information in your medical charts is kept on file for god knows how long by your insurance company. Laws differ from state to state on with whom and under what circumstances they are allowed to share that information.
posted by elizardbits at 8:03 AM on August 23, 2012 [9 favorites]

Do not tell your doctor about this incident or about your drug use. It can and probably will be inserted into a chart. From there insurance companies can use this information to deny coverage or even worse be labeled a drug user/drug seeking label.

Just see the doctor and relay your symptoms.
posted by handbanana at 8:17 AM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

A dentist is the better choice. outline your symptoms. an acute episode like this can happen from a number of causes, so the relevance of your drug use is low, but if it comes up during the interview it wouldn't raise any eyebrows in my practice. It's certainly not information that would routinely get forwarded to insurance.
as a rule random/anecdotal advice on the internet is to be heavily salted.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:30 AM on August 23, 2012

"It is foolish to lie to your doctor." Sometimes, yes. In THIS case, it would be ungodly stupid to be truthful WITH your doctor.

Do NOT!!! tell your dentist about your drug use. It is NOT relevant to your symptoms. If you took acid and had a psychotic break? Sure, super-relevant! However, jaw issues can occur because of ANY TYPE of tooth-grinding (I grind mine at night and my jaw's always sore); there is literally NO potential therapeutic benefit from leveling with your doc on this one (and I am usually ALL in favor of honesty in the doctor/patient relationship). Just say you've been under a lot of stress and think you might have started grinding your teeth more than usual.
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:43 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is merely anecdotal and not to be received as medical advice but I've had the same trouble with my jaw. It totally went away after . . . awhile. I don't remember how long it took to heal but I do remember thinking I'd fucked it up forever before it went away. I took ibuprofen for the inflammation and tried my best not to talk to much or eat chewy things. For what it's worth, I don't have TMJ but I do grind my teeth a bit at night and when I'm stressed.

If you do decide on a trip to the dentist, I don't see any reason to mention the drug use. Totally irrelevant in this situation.
posted by dchrssyr at 8:44 AM on August 23, 2012

You can alleviate some of the symptoms by putting a hot washcloth compress on either side of the joint for about 15-20 minutes on each side.

Also, re: drug use disclosure to doctors - previously.
posted by elizardbits at 8:49 AM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you tell your doctor about your E use, be prepared for that to be communicated to your insurance company, who may well try to use it as a way to decline reimbursement for your jaw issues -- which would be bad, given that you have existing, unrelated-to-MDMA grinding that you probably want to keep coverage for. It's just a can of worms that you do not want to open up.

And since you have jaw issues and grinding anyway, you really don't need to say anything about the E. Just go to your dentist, and explain the symptoms. At the very least you will probably get an X-ray to rule out TMJ problems.

There are lots of reasons why you could suddenly be grinding more (it happens to me when I'm under stress or go to sleep drunk) and have a lot of soreness, and unless the first-line treatments don't work I'm not sure why you'd want to expose yourself to the problems that admitting to drug use and having it as part of your medical records, and in particular linking it to an ongoing medical issue (!), will entail.

FWIW, I'd be prepared to be told to lay off the gum. I chew a lot of gum and was told it can exacerbate jaw / TMJ problems.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:54 AM on August 23, 2012

I have the same symptoms you describe, to a lesser extent, after being on the bike for prolonged periods; the wind pushing the helmet makes the strap clamp my jaw shut. My teeth tingle, my jaw feels 'cold' behind my ears and there's an uncomfortable fragile sensation when moving it.

It can be quite uncomfortable and does feel like something has been strained or displaced. The jaw, as I understand it, doesnt have a set socket (like an elbow for example) so it does 'float'. I think what you describe is just the after effect of pushing the jaw out of it's normal range. For me it normally goes after a day or so. If it continues, or gets worse then see a doctor. I'd go see a dentist soon/regularly; it sounds like your teeth are taking a battering.

Avoid steaks for a while...

As said above, the cause of the problem is absolutely irrelevant and IMHO it would only cause problems if you disclose it to your doctor/dentist.
posted by BadMiker at 8:56 AM on August 23, 2012

Go to the dentist. You don't have to disclose, but it's possible you might be grinding your teeth more than you think (such as at night) and this is why you're having jaw problems.
posted by loriginedumonde at 9:11 AM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

I won't weigh in on the tell/don't tell aspect of this question but I will say that if you are dealing with jaw pain/TMJ you should cut out all gum chewing. I tend to chew gum as a stress reliever and my dentist noted how tight my jaw muscles were (not a good thing). Give your jaw a break and go see a dentist/doc for further preventative care.
posted by estronaut at 11:32 AM on August 23, 2012

I had this (but from stress!) and it took nearly three years to go away after the stress stopped. I wish I'd investigated whether there was anything I could have done sooner because it was a very painful three years and my dentist didn't have anything in particular to suggest other than jaw stretches that I was doing anyway.

The only thing I did that I think helped that hasn't been mentioned so far is becoming aware of the habitual tension in my tongue and jaw and consciously releasing them every couple of minutes all day every day. Took ages to get out of the habit but I think it helped.
posted by kadia_a at 1:03 PM on August 23, 2012

Are you using whitening tooth paste? I have jaw issues and I find that makes me grind my teeth more.
posted by emilynoa at 2:58 PM on August 23, 2012

If you choose to not go to the doctor, stop chewing gum completely. I had friends that chewed a lot of gum and had the popping/soreness issue.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 10:04 PM on August 23, 2012

Go to see your dentist asap.
Is your guard the type that's only on the front teeth leaving the back ones un-guarded and unable to meet? I would stop using the night guard until this has completely settled down. I recently had the disc on one side of my jaw slip forward after a particularly grindy night with my new night guard in. I felt it slip back in place after a few weeks of no night guard and very careful babying of my jaw. This is a joint you do not want to mess around with because it can become un-fixable once scar tissue builds up.
posted by lunaazul at 12:04 AM on August 24, 2012

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