I went to the dentist today and was surprised to have him tell me that I don't really have TMJ. WHAT??!! Was so not expecting that. He said my jaw isn't as messed up as I think it is, that it's not aligned wrong or popping really bad (I wanted to ask him what on earth a really bad pop sounded like, because mine is LOUD). However, I wasn't totally off the mark, because I knew the cure for my headaches had something to do with my jaw and that I would need a mouth guard to cure it. Turns out it's the clenching I do at night. I knew this, I just thought it tied in with TMJ. It doesn't. It's just clenching. So he prescribed a mouth guard, which I get fitted for October 8th. (Yeah, that's the soonest. I figure, it's been a month, I can wait three more weeks.) I never even got to use my super-cool blog post title I had all ready for when I announced it was in fact TMJ. (TMJ: Totally Messed-up Jaw)
But get this: I said to him, "Okay, so that takes care of the clenching at night, but during the day I suck on gum all day (quit judging me. I'm just a scared little kid who needs pacified 24/7) and everyone keeps telling me I need to get OFF the gum, that it has to be giving me the headaches. BUT, I know what happens when I don't have gum...I clench. Consciously. I can't help it. My jaw has no memory of what the natural position is supposed to be. When my teeth touch (because they almost never do) I automatically start clenching. This gives me headaches." Can you guess what Dentist then said to me? STAY ON THE GUM!! I about died. I have now been instructed by my dentist, AKA Mandibular Expert, to keep sucking on gum, day in and day out. And there you have it, my friends. Never again will I attempt to quit gum, a wasted effort anyway. I will quit feeling guilty about it, thinking of excuses to quit, and relish the fact that I am allowed--nay, instructed to have all the gum my little heart (mouth) desires.
Dentist explained that since I'm not technically "chewing," I am doing no harm to my jaw, nerves, or teeth, and that if I stopped, I would, as I said, start clenching away, causing serious, serious damage. He didn't need to twist my arm.
So, to sum up, no TMJ, mouth guard on the way, free to suck away--hooray!