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I have braces for the second time in my life. Though this time around it’s a bit more serious than the typical teenager crooked teeth. I have TMD, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, which is more commonly called TMJ (though WedMD tells me it is wrong to call it TMJ). I’ve always had the popping and clicking in the joint, which is common with TMD, but within the last 8 months or so I’ve developed pain also. The pain has been getting worse and worse as time goes on, so back in mid-February I made an appointment with an orthodontist to see what my options were.

At my consultation we learned that I have a class II malocclusion jaw (molars don’t come together correctly in a front to back direction), crossbite (molars don’t come together correctly in a side to side direction) and my lower jaw is 11mm back from where it should be, creating a massive overbite. This photo shows just how serious the situation is:

This x-ray of my noggin also shows my gigantic overbite and how far back my lower jaw is:

At this point I was referred to a maxillo-facial surgeon to find out more answers. When meeting with the surgeon, we also found out that my right joint is smaller than the left, which is possibly degenerative and is also affecting my bite.  My options were: to do nothing, take drugs to manage the pain (ummm hell no), a splint to be worn at night to possibly treat the symptoms or reconstructive jaw (orthognathic) surgery to fix the problem and stop the symptoms. I left the office that day incredibly frustrated and in tears.

There were a lot of questions and discussions with my family, my dentist,the amazing people at the orthodontist’s office, the surgeon’s assistant, online message boards and fellow bloggers. Then, after finding out that the surgery is covered by my health insurance, I decided that I wanted (using the term ‘wanted’ loosely here) the surgery.

The first step is braces ($2,000 of which is also covered by my health insurance) to start moving my teeth into the proper bite position and to stabilize my teeth against the forces of surgery. I have the Damon System with Damon Clear on the top. The total cost for my estimated 20 months of orthodontic treatment is $5, 590 (cost to me will be $3,590).

Yes, this is my mouth.

At this point the predicted surgery date is 8 months away but that’s not set in stone. The tentative surgical procedure is reconstruction of mandible with a sagittal split and internal rigid fixation. Meaning he’s going to cut through my jaw, slide it forward and screw it in place. The general optimal recovery is 1-2 nights in the hospital, 3 weeks off work and exercise, mouth tightly banded for 2-3 weeks, 6 week liquid diet, 6 weeks total recovery. The total cost to me for the surgery will be my $1,000 hospital deductible. Some of the surgery costs to me will also be offset by the fact that I have the Hospital Indemnity plan from Aflac.

So far I’ve had the braces on for one week. I’ll be posting tomorrow about my experience so far and what this means for the next racing season and our trying to conceive plans. I’ll be posting updates when I have something worth noting and I’ve made a TMD/TMJ category for ease of locating posts. If you have questions for me, feel free to email me: motivationalmiles (at) gmail (dot) com.

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