Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Click, Click, Shift Girl

Finally, after 4 visits to the dentist, my wonky tooth is finally canalled and crowned. I would say it's been a comedy of errors except that it hasn't been funny; the first crown didn't fit and had to be re-made and re-seated, and I have since learned that the tooth behind the one they root-canalled is cracked and was causing some of the pain and needs to be fixed in January.


Because my dentist and his assistant have spent so much time working in my mouth this fall, they have adopted a nickname for me. I am known around that office as the "Click, click, shift" girl.

See, I have this noisy jaw. I didn't realize just how bad it was until the dentist started commenting on it. For years, Jason has tried to get me to do something about it; sometimes mid-dinner he will stop eating and look at me.

"Your jaw..." and then he stops, because apparently it's beyond words.

Jason would prefer that everyone eat in a cave 50 miles away from him, though, because of his eating noise issues, so to me that was never a reliable indicator of how fracked up my jaw joint has become. But when you can get a seasoned dental assistant to wince...

"Oooh..." she said when I showed up for my root canal and opened my mouth for the first time. And then she shivered.

And so it was every time after that that I had to open up during the canal prep. "Oooh..." followed by a shiver. And then when the dentist came in I realized there had been some discussion between the two of them.

"Yep," he said, looking at his assistant. "Click, click, shift."

They explained to me that every time I open my mouth, it goes through a ritual. Each jaw joint first clicks, then the whole jaw shifts position, and then I can open my mouth.

At the first post-canal appointment, the assistant asked me how my jaw held up after the canal. And once she mentioned it, I realized the dull ache in my jaw had been the only discomfort I had.

"Your jaw..." she said, echoing my husband. And then she shivered.

"The 'click-click-shift' girl is back!" she called out to the dentist.

This most recent appointment they just made jokes about it.

"Open, please," the dentist said as he cemented in the new crown. Click, click, shift. "Don't hurt yourself," he added, grinning.

Ha, ha. Laugh it up.

Needless to say I left the office with a handout of physical therapy exercises for TMJ disorders. It's going to require 15 minutes of my valuable free time every day for however long it takes for my jaw to stop making noises of such an extent that even dental professionals get weirded out by them. I can't promise I can keep this up, though; this is a bad time of year to try to consistently carve out a few minutes of my time. I'm exhausted every night as it is and haven't been good for much of anything except couch-cushion-warming after 8pm.

But thinking about sitting on the couch just made me yawn, and yawning required the click-click-shift, so I guess I'll be starting those exercises now.


Robert K. said...

Could be worse. My sister had to have her jaw broken and reset to fix her TMJ.

Library Lady said...

Now I just shivered. That's reason number 97 why I started my exercises last night...

Karen said...

My jaw aches just reading this. I think it was pretty obnoxious of them to harass you about your jaw though. I would have beat them up. Okay, well, I would have talked about beating them up. ;)