Quick, someone punch me in the jaw

Remember when I was all “I’m going to the dentist to get my TMJ taken care of finally” and I knew it was going to be expensive but I was okay with that, mostly, because I’m in so much pain?

I don’t like surprises. So I went ahead and did my research before I went back, yesterday, so that I could maybe get over any sticker shock beforehand. According to what I’d read, I could expect to pay $400-$500 for the custom bite splint I expected they were going to recommend for me. Not chump change, to be sure, but I was steeled and ready. This is FOR MY HEALTH, I told myself, as I walked into the office. THIS IS SOMETHING I HAVE TO DO, I reminded myself, as I checked in. IT’S JUST MONEY, I repeated silently, because I am a total freak about money and I knew I just needed to get over it and take care of my health.

The dentist brought me into his little office with the desk and the awards and certificates on the walls and a metal contraption which now held a ceramic (?) reproduction of my teeth and how my bite works. The first thing I thought when I sat down was, “Man, my parents should TOTALLY demand that my childhood orthodontist give them their money back.”

There’s a fancy word for what dentists and orthodontists call my particular kind of bite, but I don’t remember what it was because I stopped listening, briefly, when my dentist opened with the news that really, what I need, is jaw surgery.

As soon as he noticed the horrified look on my face, he rushed to clarify that while jaw surgery would be the only thing that will truly and permanently take care of my TMJ and tooth wear, he “never recommends that as a first line approach,” and I could rest easy in the knowledge that surgery was NOT what he was going to recommend for me, today. No no no. Besides, insurance almost never covers that! The FIRST thing to do is a specialized bite splint to try to correct my “jaw malformation.”

People, I am nearly 40 years old. I could’ve happily gone MY ENTIRE LIFE without being told that my jaw is “malformed.” I mean, I know I (still) have a bit of an overbite, but now I sort of feel like an orthodontic Quasimodo over here. (“DON’T LOOK AT MY TEETH! I CAN’T BEAR IT WHEN YOU LOOK AT MY TEEEEEEEETH!”)

Perhaps the dentist does not understand that I am soft and pink and quivery with delicate sensibilities on the inside. Okay.

Next the dentist whipped out a large plexiglass-covered side view of a skull, complete with rubber bands for muscles and a plastic hinge for the jaw joint. For the next twenty minutes I learned about proper bite and jaw alignment, and was given a full demonstration of why my (MALFORMED!) jaw with its anterior (INFERIOR!) alignment is causing my muscles to work overtime, and then—while I try to sleep—spasm and clench and grind. The dentist swapped out lower jaw pieces to show me the right way and my way, and when “my” bite was in place, poor Plexiglass Man was all misaligned and clearly pissed off that his insurance won’t cover having his jaw surgery.

FINALLY (it seemed like this entire thing took hours, or maybe days), the dentist inserted the bite guard analog piece into the anterior bite and showed how it magically made everything align properly once again, and peace and harmony ruled the world.

“And so that’s what we’re recommending for you,” he concluded. “It’s called a Tanner bite splint, and it will allow your jaw to align in a position of rest at night, which will allow your muscles some respite and let that joint start to heal up.”

I nodded. “Okay,” I said. “Are you going to tell me what this is going to cost?”

“We drew up some paperwork for you,” he replied, never missing a beat, reaching down into a folder. “Now, I don’t want you to panic when you see this,” he added, handing the paperwork to me.

I paused, hand in the air, papers clenched. “This isn’t covered by insurance, right?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“Oh, actually it is!” he said, clearly relieved to have some good news for me. “And it’s not even your dental insurance, it’s your medical insurance. Because this is actually an orthopedic issue, so generally we see pretty good coverage.”

“Well THAT’s the first good news you’ve given me today!” I said, and we laughed. Oh ha ha ha, JAWS AND THEIR ASSOCIATED COSTS ARE SO FUNNY.

I set the paperwork down in front of me. The first page was an “Information on Temporomandibular Joint” sheet, which could basically be distilled down to “You and your malformed jaw are totally screwed, sucker.” One of the things I enjoyed about it, however, was that among the “other recommended treatments” they listed biofeedback, cranial osteopathy, and PSYCHOLOGICAL COUNSELING. Because if only I could tell someone how my malformed jaw makes me FEEL, all could be made better.

The second page outlined the treatment plan, which included—as expected—the custom bite splint, as well as 6-9 month window for weekly or biweekly visits for adjustments.

The cost for this was set at… $2,000. With a disclaimer that treatment might be unsuccessful and then we’d have to discuss jaw surgery.

I blinked at the last zero a couple of times. It did not go away.

The dentist told me he’d send in the office manager to discuss financials, and reminded me (again) that insurance coverage is available, and not to worry. I nodded.

The office manager came in and sat down and asked me if I had any questions. I repeated what the dentist had said about insurance coverage, and asked her if that was really true.

“Well it’s true for some plans, yes,” she said. “Tell me again which insurance you have?” I told her, and she frowned. “Oh, Mir, I’m sorry. They don’t cover this at all.” I looked back down at the $2,000 on the sheet in front of me.

“It’s, uh, open enrollment?” I finally squeaked. “I mean, right now is open enrollment. Would a different plan cover it…?”

“Well, I know you have another option that will cover about half,” she said, carefully, “But I think that plan costs about twice as much, so I wouldn’t recommend you switch just for this. I just don’t think it will save you anything in the end.” I nodded. “We do offer a payment plan,” she added. “Did you want to discuss that?”

I probably should’ve discussed that. But instead I opted to burst into tears, because the thing about where I’m at, psychologically, right now (me and my malformed jaw, that is), is that a surprise of a $2,000 magnitude is just not something I can deal with rationally in the moment. I just couldn’t. So I apologized and took my information sheets and left.

I came home and called Otto.

“THEY WANT TWO THOUSAND FUCKING DOLLARS FOR THIS,” I managed, between tears. “WE HAVE WORMS AND ROTTEN CHILDREN AND CHRISTMAS AND THINGS AND THEY WANT TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS.”

“We’ll find a way—” he started.

“No we will NOT!” I countered. “I am not giving them two thousand dollars. For a hunk of plastic. For my stupid mouth with my stupid teeth. I WILL NOT. I WILL JUST GRIND MY TEETH INTO NUBS AND I DON’T EVEN CARE.”

“Mir. I think—”

“I WILL GO ON A LIQUID DIET AND STOP CHEWING EVER.”

“You… I… um. I’m sorry? I know you’re upset.”

“IT’S POSSIBLE I AM BEING SLIGHTLY IRRATIONAL AT THE MOMENT. JUST POSSIBLE.” And then I laughed, and Otto laughed, and it wasn’t okay—I mean, $2,000 didn’t fall out of the sky into my lap while we giggled—but it was better.

But if you think I’m not seriously considering how I might have a bike accident or something that might necessitate—emergency, insurance-covered—jaw surgery, you obviously haven’t met me. And my malformed, stupid, expensive jaw. (I am kidding, of course.)

Who wants a smoothie?

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69 Responses to “Quick, someone punch me in the jaw”

  1. 1
    Leandra November 9, 2010 at 9:05 am #

    I am not an ANIMAL! I’m sorry. I know you were going for Quasimodo but I kept channeling Elephant Man for some reason. Not that you LOOK like the Elephant Man or anything. ‘Cause you’re so pretty and all.

    Hang in there, girlie. This too shall pass.

  2. 2
    TripleZmom November 9, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    This totally sucks and if I didn’t punch like a girl, I would totally hit you and get that damn medical insurance to cover things. But you’d probably just get some mild bruising and I would feel really guilty for hitting you.

  3. 3
    Melody November 9, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    Um Mir? You are young, and have a lot of years left to suffer if you do not fix your jaw. You can always try the bite guards from a drugstore first…It seems that every time my husband or I go to the dentist, one of us needs a root canal. I had to have a $2,000 bridge replaced which damaged two teeth that needed root canals. Then the bridge was inserted and cemented in wrong. So the money was refunded, and I am waiting 5 years for my insurance to “reset” so that I can have it redone. Because of course the cost went up past the refunded amount and we would have had to make up the difference. I am considering implants…I had 8 permanent teeth that never came in from childhood. Talk about an expensive mouth! Thanks!! I almost never get to talk about my dental problems :-)

  4. 4
    ellbee November 9, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    Insurance is horrible. Of course they don’t cover that, of course! I myself just had a baby (hi, Mr.Squishy!) and my insurance denied EVERY claim associated with the birth on the apparently real to them chance that I might have other insurance I JUST FAILED TO MENTION.

    It’s all sorted out now, but I spent a horrible weekend staring at piles of bills all stamped DENIED, while visions of $20,000 loans and vans down by the river danced in my head.

    I’d check out their payment plan…you never know, it might be something you can live with!

  5. 5
    hollygee November 9, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    (((((((( Oh, Mir )))))))))

  6. 6
    Headless Mom November 9, 2010 at 9:37 am #

    Hugs. That stinks. (And it’s way too early here on the west coast for me to make a coherent comment.)

  7. 7
    s November 9, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    oh Mir, take some time and think about it. I was faced with a HUGE dental dilemma a few years back and the cost shocked me. But in the end, it was worth it. Now my kids have braces and when the ortho guy sat my husband and I down with the sheaf of paperwork, surprisingly, the number didn’t shock me oh so much…my stomach did plummet but I didn’t burst into tears as I did when it was my dental work and cost in front of me!!

    Dental insurance is in the dark ages. But seriously, think about long term – you’d do it in a hearbeat for your kids – you are worth it too! What would you tell your daughter if she was the one with this issue – to skip it because it costs too much?? I think not.

    lol and I’m so with you on the xmas and rotten children….

  8. 8
    Brigid November 9, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Oh Mir. I’m so sorry. Before I read yesterday’s post my mom told me some days she just wants to give you a big hug. And then I went and left a “you think that’s bad…” comment. Today, I’m sending you a great big hug.

  9. 9
    bonuela November 9, 2010 at 9:44 am #

    you forgot the part about there being no guarantee that licorice won’t think said bite splint is a chew toy.

    sorry.

  10. 10
    Kathie November 9, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Okay, so while you may have to pay $2,000 for it…maybe you could enroll in your HSA (if you have that option), so at least it’s pre-tax $2,000? And it wouldn’t get taken out of your pocket all at once… Just a thought….since it is open-enrollment and all.

  11. 11
    Half Assed Kitchen November 9, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    I’m sorry, Mir! If it helps, I think you have a pretty jaw.

  12. 12
    karen November 9, 2010 at 10:14 am #

    Mir. Fix the jaw. It’s $2,000. Knowing all the pain you have suffered already… if someone told you in the beginning that for $2,000. they could take it all away… would it have been worth it? Would you DENY YOUR KIDS if they needed it???….. Yeah.. well… You’ve got probably another 40-50 years to go, I’m thinking. That’s an awful long time to suffer.

    Just shush and listen to Otto and YOU WILL FIND A WAY. Go with the payment plan and start the treatment.

    Just sayin… cause you can’t punch me over here :-)

  13. 13
    joaaanna November 9, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Gah. And UGH! I gotta say – I bought the hunk of plastic for around $1,200 and it did provide me with some relief. The worst part was when less than a month into owning it I found the dog chewing on it. I bent the wires back, washed it (a hundred bazillion times) and never told my husband.

    I don’t need it all of the time (never diagnosed with TMJ, just severe grinding issues), usually during bouts of stress. It does help. Now if I could only find the damn thing. Pretty sure Hubert the Dog doesn’t have it this time. I hope.

  14. 14
    elz November 9, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Does it make you feel better that I had jaw surgery? And, um, still grind my teeth a bit at night. My bite was that bad. I had surgery while the military still provided full coverage and treatment for dependents at the base hospital, so everything was covered. Of course back then there weren’t smoothies, etc so I had to drink Ensure for like 3 months. Oh my gag it was horrible.

  15. 15
    Annette November 9, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Try to negotiate with them. Our orthodontist did and we are saving a load. The dental business is hurting now too:)

  16. 16
    getcha November 9, 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Dude I so feel your pain … well, the $$$ pain … my husband had to have some major dental work done last month and over the phone the receptionist was all “oh yeah, you’ve got great coverage and yes they cover both procedures and the crowns, etc etc etc blah blah blah” … we get there and she hands us the printouts with the breakdown and prices and OMFG the insurance covers 20% … and they only payment plan they offer is pay half today and pay the other half when we put the crown on … wtf … on top of that they messed up the crown the 1st time, had to jerk it out, broke the tooth next to it … rip off artists they are

  17. 17
    Sheila November 9, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    I dunno, but that just sort of screams “second opinion” to me. Maybe with an orthodontist, or a bartender perhaps. Whichever.

  18. 18
    Aimee November 9, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Mmm… smoothies!

    That really sucks. But you know what? I don’t think you should have to spend more time being in pain. Why not try negotiating as Annette suggested? The worst result you’ll get is the result you have right now, so it’s truly a nothing-to-lose situation. If that doesn’t work, maybe the payment plan isn’t a bad option?

  19. 19
    Ani November 9, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    What you need is some quality time with small boys playing baseball, such that one of them “accidentally” smacks you on the jaw, hence requiring surgery, hence paid by insurance.

    Ok, that so does not help at all.

    Insurance sucks.

    Do get a second opinion, though, because orthodontia is partly science but also partly art.

    Good luck!

  20. 20
    Ani November 9, 2010 at 10:54 am #

    Or stalk Groupon for an ortho deal (I’ve seen them on there!)

  21. 21
    MomCat November 9, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    I’ve ignored mine for years for the same reasons. Want to take a punch at each other, see if it works?

  22. 22
    Lauren November 9, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    Awwww, I’m sorry. :/ That’s the worst. My dentist told me the reason they recommend counseling (cognitive-behavioral therapy in particular) is that TMJ is exacerbated by anxiety. Still. Odd.

  23. 23
    Linda November 9, 2010 at 11:13 am #

    My daughter had an under bite. She had to have surgery at 16 on her upper jaw to bring it out. This was after she had braces and her wisdom teeth out. When the orthodontist told us she would have to have surgery later on, he said Kaiser didn’t cover it(at the time). And maybe we should think about getting differenr insurance since it would cost $30,000 to $50,000, and this was almost 20 years ago. We were self-employed at the time and couldn’t afford other insurance. Luckily, Kaiser hired an oral surgeon before she needed the surgery and it only cost a few co-pays for visits and the cost of prescriptions. This was before Kaiser covered prescriptions.
    If she hadn’t got the operation, they said she would have TMJ later on. If Kaiser hadn’t covered it, she would have had to have the surgery after she got a job with insurance that covered it.
    It’s not cosmetic; it’s a medical condition.

  24. 24
    copy_kitty November 9, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    I feel your pain, Mir. Literally. I must say that I opted not to treat my dental problems a few years ago. And now I regret it. I have broken two FRONT teeth: one horizontally snapped off at the gum line (while eating a hot dog!); one cracked vertically due to clenching. I have had chunks of molars break off while I’m chewing a crouton! And I have countless root canals ’cause by my bad bite contributed to killing the nerves in my teeth. Fun, huh? They never tell you about all of these exciting long-term side effects!

    Now, a root canal runs about $1000, each extraction and implant runs about $3500+; crowning/fixing my molars and bite is running $13,000; fixing the bite around my front teeth will cost thousands more. So, I think $2000 sounds pretty good, actually. Oh, and I did have braces. Twice.

    And I am 44. I could have had this problem fixed in my thirties.

  25. 25
    Tracy B November 9, 2010 at 11:44 am #

    OH my goodness. I’ve been MIA for a couple of days and just now got caught up with the worms and all. I’m so sorry but jeez, when it rains over there it comes a freakin’ typhon, huh? I’m so sorry! I know the feeling about WORMS, ROTTEN KIDS (and GRANDKIDS) and CHRISTMAS though. Well, maybe not the WORMS part. Sorry! Ok, I’ll take a smoothie.

  26. 26
    Alice November 9, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    That sucks. I hope that some medicinal ice cream is forthcoming, because that’s one hell of a price jump. You’re worth it, but that doesn’t make the price tag less daunting.

    I have to echo the folks who recommended asking for a discount, though – if you can pay cash upfront to them, there may be a price break they can offer, especially if 2K is the price they quote to insurance companies.

    In the meanwhile, I’m now realizing that there are a ton of ways to make yourself require jaw surgery, but none that are only mildly painful. While I’m sure this is good evolution-wise (massive injury should bring about pain, to keep us from trying it for funsies), it does limit one’s options when health insurance is crappy. I’ll hope for 2K out of the sky, instead.

  27. 27
    meghann November 9, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    I hate the dentist. Sorry to any dentists out there, but, I do. I hate dental insurance plans even more.

    When Logan had to get three cavities filled, it cost us $1000. Not kidding. Since he’s autistic and one of the cavities was deep, they needed to sedate him to do it. And our dental insurance plan doesn’t cover sedation of any kind. I guess they thought my (at the time) four year old autistic son should “take it like a man” or something.

    p.s.-I agree with commenter #7. We as moms tend to not value ourselves enough.

  28. 28
    My Kids Mom November 9, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Well, we hit the massive-nothing-ever-happen-to-us-so-we-should-go-with-the-really-super-high deductible this week when Pook broke his finger and we were told that Bug needed foot splints (AFO’s) and Physical Therapy for six months. At this point, we’re broke, so NOW the insurance company will cover anything ELSE that happens. So, punch one of my kids in the jaw. They’re covered.

  29. 29
    Kris November 9, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Mir, for the record almost 95% of people have TMJ problems. And honestly at 41 I got the night splint just so I didn’t wake up with headaches, I don’t chew much gum anymore, and I figure they don’t need any more of my money either.

    I’m not a tooth (or facial) model at all. (Ok, wait – facial model sounds just a wee bit pornographic. Or maybe it’s just my mind. No? Ok, thanks.)

    I don’t need the surgery or the extreme therapies – and I’m pretty sure that you don’t either. Orthodontists are there to make money. I highly doubt that anyone will look at you, shriek and cringe away in disgust. Even if you are all wormy and misshapen.

    Pretty, pretty Mir.

  30. 30
    Kris November 9, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    And wait – wasn’t Monkey in Taekwondo? You could TOTALLY use that as your out.

  31. 31
    Lynne November 9, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    If it was your kids, you would do it. Mom’s aren’t very good at taking care of themselves and we all need to try harder at that. How good of a Mom are you when you are in pain? I hope that doesn’t sound harsh…I don’t want it to.

    Look into the FSA/HSA, whatever is available with your health plan. The tax dollars saved will make you feel better.

  32. 32
    Juliep60 November 9, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    First, do not have surgery! I work for an oral surgeon and they rarely (maybe twice in the 15+ years I have worked for them) actually recommended that option to anyone.

    Bite splints are a great tool to help you, but $2000 is way too much money for that treatment. Get another opinion or two. My bite splint was $400 and that included followup visits for adjustments, etc. Of course, that was 5-6 years ago, so I’m sure inflation plays a role but $2000 is outrageous.

  33. 33
    Rachael November 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    I wish I had words of endless wisdom here, but… I’m going to use discernment here and not say a word and give you a big hug. $2,000 sucks!

  34. 34
    Monique November 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

    Ouch! That SUCKS! Well, just try to figure out which ouch pain is worse. The mouth pain for another 40-50 years or the pain of finding the money and having a lean Christmas. Or maybe you can wait until after Christmas [and Monkey's birthday (no, I'm not a crazy stalker, Monkey and I share the same birthday)].

    Hugs, and good luck!

  35. 35
    Donna November 9, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

    My scenario was: braces, extraction of 4 teeth, more braces. Surgery, to break and move the lower jaw forward. Six weeks of having my teeth wired shut. More braces, done.

    This was 1983, and I have to say I think it was worth it, to solve the TMJ issues.

    I still grind at night, and two of my bottom teeth have gone all crooked again, but the popping, pain, and jaw-locking misery are distant memories.

    My medical insurance paid for the surgery, and I paid for the braces.

    I had two oral surgeons, a dentist, and an orthodontist. I’m pretty sure I put a kid through college, or at least made several payments on someone’s Porsche. Still, Worth. It., at least for me.

  36. 36
    lizneust November 9, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Yeah, I’m there too. I’ve just had my second root canal because not only is my bite really bad AND I grind my teeth AND I had a ton of cavities as a kid, apparently my top molars are “beasts that beat your bottom molars up.” Not kidding – that’s what my dentist said. The root canal was covered, but the crown wasn’t. Which makes NO sense to me – you’re happy to cover killing my tooth, but you won’t pay for the thing that makes sure I don’t do further damage? Anyway, the crown was $1900 and insurance only covered $500.

    She’s told me that the guard will probably be about $1500 and if I am lucky maybe my health insurance will cover some part of that. Teeth are really really expensive.

    Good luck figuring it out.

  37. 37
    Rebecca November 9, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    Oh sweetie, this sucks. I know how you feel tho – I was told when I was about 25 that I needed jaw surgery due to that same basic kind of issue. I’m 30blahblah now and it hasn’t happened yet and isn’t going to. The near constant pain/discomfort sucks, but I just live with it. Now, if you can somehow manage the $2000 (payment plans should be discussed!!!!!) and it might help – then try it!! Seriously – if it’s gonna help and a payment plan is an option, check into that option!!!!

    Feel better! I know jaw pain and it ain’t fun.

  38. 38
    Lucinda November 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    Once you have time to digest this all, your clear head will return and you will deal with this in typical Mir fashion which is to get a 2nd opinion, ask how much the insurance would actually pay them if your insurance did cover and then negotiate a reasonable discount. Hopefully you will also realize, as many have pointed out, that you wouldn’t hesitate if this was one of the kids and your kids deserve to have a mother who takes care of herself. No one gave you permission to let the mother of your kids suffer unnecessary pain.

    ((((HUGS)))) to you. I have a friend who suffers that same sort of ongoing depression you have mentioned and I see him get overwhelmed at times too. We just gave him a pep talk last night about perspective. Glad Otto is there to do that for you.

  39. 39
    Megan November 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    I want to commiserate, truly I do, but I had to read this post with only one eye and take pauses between paragraphs for deep breathing and mental cleansing. Because I? DO NOT DO TEETH.

    I mean, I’m sure yours are lovely, and delightful and all dontotastic or whatever and I’m not hiding under my desk AT ALL. Well, hardly at all. Only a bit.

    I will however be utterly shameless and say that all of this? Totally bites.

    Snrk.

  40. 40
    JennyM November 9, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Your jaw isn’t malformed, it’s unique and special and pretty! Like you!

    (That sucks, yo, seriously. I think wine helps with TMJ problems.)

  41. 41
    Katie in MA November 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm #

    Not fun. Not fun, not fun, not fun. My gold-plated magic bite correcter was “only” supposed to cost me $1300. Well, and another $200 to reshape my teeth. My poor dentist hasn’t even pressed about an appointment because he *knows* I am hard pressed to find money for cleanings, never mind $1500 to fix my jaw clenching/TMJ issues. Stupid insurance companies. Perhaps we could get a discount if we hire the same hit man? (Get it? HIT man?! Sorry, bad jokes help me cope.)

  42. 42
    Rasselas November 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Mir!!! You are very beautiful!!

    Just wanted you to know.

  43. 43
    Debbie H. November 9, 2010 at 3:27 pm #

    Mine isn’t/wasn’t covered either. Payment plan and total cost was approx.$2000.00. Add the next $2500.00 for our part of my braces then to be fitted with a night guard forever. After that, a bridge to fill in a missing tooth..ahh dental adventures. I’m thinking its worth it in the end. Oh and out of our four kids, 3 have or had braces, #4 is waiting in the wings. Thank goodness for insurance for braces.

  44. 44
    Helena November 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    My husband is in dental school right now, and when I told him that I have jaw tension, headaches, and I grind my teeth he got this look of panic on his face. I am so sorry about your malformation!

  45. 45
    Mary Fran November 9, 2010 at 4:30 pm #

    Mir, You are so not alone. When I found out I needed to get 5 crowns to the tune of $7500, I got into the car and burst into tears. Why do we feel so guilty about spending money on ourselves??? I would (a) get a second opinion and (b) is there a dental school at the university? This is something they might be able to do at a fraction of the cost (I wouldn’t recommend that route for the surgery, though)

  46. 46
    Carmen November 9, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    I had the same surgery as commenter #14 – Hi Elz! (fancy seeing you here!)

    It worked. Kind of, sort of. i wore braces three times. Had my wisdom teeth removed, had four permanent teeth taken out – and my teeth are *still* crooked on the bottom. But my top teeth are really straight.

    I’m so sorry that you are dealing with this. I can commiserate – I just took 3 of my kids to a new dentist, on the sneaking suspicion that the old dentist isn’t quite so thorough. Oldest had 6 (!!) cavities, second had 2 and fourth had 2. For those three kids, the cost to me to fill them is $1400. AND I STILL HAVE 3 KIDS TO GO.

    Dental stuff sux.

  47. 47
    Dawn November 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm #

    I was told my teeth grinding was about to bring about the apocalypse, or at the very least lots of innocent puppies would be stoned to death if I did not put an end to it RIGHT NOW.

    I didn’t. Because I am a PhD candidate and very,very poor.

    But yeah, stress will kill your teeth. May I suggest Bachs Rescue Remedy Sleep?

  48. 48
    StacyQ November 9, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    i am so sorry to hear about your nasty jaw betraying you like that… don’t you wish all your body parts would understand they’re all supposed to WORK TOGETHER!! HEY, you in the JAW department, you’re TOTALLY not CARRYING your own weight!!!!

    If it’s any consolation, you wrote about it so endearingly and charmingly… obviously your brain and writing hand are going into cleverness overtime to make up for your slacker jaw.

  49. 49
    Sarah November 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm #

    I know how that feels … I just paid $4000 for ONE tooth (dental implant) … which, of course, insurance decided after 6 months to not pay. Luckily we have a $500 floater we can use … and of course I started a permanent teaching job a month after getting the tooth … don’t want to know whether it would have covered anything …

  50. 50
    ccr in MA November 9, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    Oh, honey! Ow! So sorry. And you’re pretty, no matter how badly the bloodsucker dentist put it. Remember, he didn’t go to dental school because he had a way with words.

    (I am kind of snickering for poor Otto, though. “You… I… um. I’m sorry?”)

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    Jessica November 9, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    As I’m reading this, I am also glancing through my insurance update info, and I’m a little upset about how much we pay into insurance and how little we get back out of insurance. I went on a mini-rant the other day about car insurance (off-track a bit, but stay with me). We pay and pay and pay through the nose. Our premiums go up ever three to six months, at minimum, and then when we get into an accident (*crosses fingers that this hasn’t happened yet*) — which is why we have the insurance anyway, no? — our premiums go up even more…? Why? Aren’t I paying for you to deal with this in the first place? Grrrr.

    Anyway, I’m with you about the dentist. I’ve spent more time and money on my teeth than the rest of my body parts combined. *hugs* Not to worry, though: you don’t look a thing like Quasimodo. Not even the bride of Frankenstein’s monster or anything.

    By the way, you’re very pretty, and I think you deserve a couple new pairs of shoes. I know you can’t chew on them at night, but maybe they’ll make you feel a bit better in the meantime. ;)

  52. 52
    Michele November 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm #

    I get you want to just be all angry and irritated and generally pissed that it costs $2,000 but all the emotion is just not worth it. If it were me I would not even give it a second thought, spend the money. And believe me when I tell you I. do. not. have. an. extra. $2,000! You are talking about your health. That is the bottom line. 2 years ago I had to come up with $1000 for a crown and I HAVE dental insurance! Did I like spending the money, no way. Do I want to be missing a tooth, um not even an option.
    I have a feeling you will be happy that you spent the money. After all it is only money, you just earn more.

  53. 53
    The Other Leanne November 9, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    a) your body is telling you something; listen to it.
    b) pay me now or pay me later: it’s not going to be easier or cheaper in the future.
    c) it’s really hard to get popcorn out of cracked and broken molars.

  54. 54
    jenn November 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm #

    Even if not for your TMJ, I suggest getting at least a cheap bite guard to wear at night. Having had one crown before I was 25 due to cracked filling from clenching my teeth while I slept, and needing another crown in the very near future having just cracked a front tooth (even though I wear mine religiously – serves me right for taking a short nap without it), a good bite splint earlier would likely have saved me about that much :(

  55. 55
    nina November 9, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    mir- i have been following your site for awhile but have yet to comment on a post. my mother is currently going through treatment for TMJ, amongst other jaw issues. she was born with a massive overbite, which has gotten progressively worse over the years (she is 61 now). she never did anything about her jaw until now because it was still fully functional. BIG MISTAKE. about six months or so ago, her jaws stopped. working. as in, she could no longer open her mouth more than to put a straw in it. she has had a bite plate and a full mouth of braces for a couple months now, which is helping with the jaw opening thing but she is on a completely liquid diet. after the braces do their thing over the next six months, she will have jaw surgery, where her jaw is broken, adjusted with titanium rods, and then left to heal (the doctors told her the same exact thing: this is last – and undesirable – resort). i know it’s a pretty gruesome story, but please please please don’t wait until you are 60 and everything stops working!! get the bite plate now, you will DEFINITELY not regret it!

  56. 56
    Cele November 9, 2010 at 8:33 pm #

    Mir my pretty go buy a mouth guard at the pharmacy. I have TMJ (love those mornings when I wake up and my jaw is locked tighter than Typhoid Mary’s), grind my teeth (or use to) and suffer the associated headaches. Let’s not talk about the times I have a delicous meal in front of me and my jaw snaps and pops out of joint and I can eat. My dentist told me I could have braces that would fix my TMJ – it was eight years of braces for an overbite I still have that gave me TMJ in the first place.

    At least with a mouthgard you won’t grind your teeth. I think Night gards are less than $20. Let me know how it works for you.

  57. 57
    Shannon November 9, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    Um, I’m sorry? That’s terrible! I thought everyone who had TMJ needed surgery. My husband had it done when he was 17. They broke his jaw and brought it up and in. I didn’t know him then but I’ve seen the pics and his face is a totally different shape since the surgery. But my understanding is that surgery is the normal treatment. Maybe I’m confused? I hope you can figure something out. That should be covered as a medical problem. It makes no sense to me why it wouldn’t be! Poor you!

  58. 58
    Lara November 9, 2010 at 9:50 pm #

    Sorry to hear about the last two days of trauma! I agree with some other commentators – would you do it for your kids? And maybe a second opinion and price quote … And worms! Ick! Ick! Though I had a good chuckle to know I’m not the only one torturing – I mean teasing ;) – my children with the worm song :)

  59. 59
    Flea November 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm #

    Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I asked my husband to punch me in the jaw!

    Seriously, why can’t you waltz down to Walgreens and spend 25 bucks on a Doctor’s Night Guard? Try it first before spending beaucoup bucks on the dental angle. Mine worked beautifully. Awkward at first, but you get used to having something in your mouth at night and wake up headache free.

    And I really did spend the first half of my marriage asking my husband to punch me in the jaw to alleviate the pain from teeth grinding. He never obliged. Smart man.

  60. 60
    Rosten November 10, 2010 at 12:44 am #

    My TMJ started about 3 years ago when I had my wisdom teeth out. I still can’t convince my dentist that that had anything to do with it, but what can you do. Anyway, he’s been pushing for me to get a bite guard ever since, but I’ve only just in the last year or so started to accept that I must be clenching/grinding at night, since I’ve been so fixated on the wisdom teeth part of it.

    His initial estimate was somewhere in the $1500 range, and that was for the bite guard and a series of appointments to adjust my bite, which would have involved grinding down some of my teeth. More recently he’s just talked about the bit guard by itself, which is around $650. You might see whether you can start out with just the bite guard, and see if that helps before you do anything else, or at least get a second opinion on the cost.

    I’ve managed to control my TMJ a bit by following some of the advice in the TMJ Healing Plan by Peterson, but as far as I know my problem is more associated with stress and grinding, so it may not be helpful to you. I got it from the library, so you could possibly check it out there rather than buying it. I’m guessing I’ll end up getting the bite guard next year some time, but I’m waiting until my insurance resets in January so that it at least puts a chunk toward the deductible!

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    Heather November 10, 2010 at 2:58 am #

    This post is scaring me for my future dental needs, and I would’ve cried at $2000 too, especially at this point in my life. I hope you get it sorted out without having to sell one of the children or God forbid, the dog.

  62. 62
    mamaspeak November 10, 2010 at 3:10 am #

    Wow, did you open a can of worms (too soon? sorry) on this one.
    2nd opinion for sure, look into payment plan, possible saving up on your own $20 a month & using a (cheaper, non Rx) bite guard in the meantime?
    IDK, I have this issue too. When it’s bad, as I’m sure your’s is right now, there’s not much I wouldn’t pay to have it fixed. It’s not JUST TMJ. It’s headaches, lost sleep and all the other things that can come with that. If you don’t resolve it, it could continue to get worse. Yes, I am just a little ray of sunshine, you are so welcome.

    Guess you know why therapy is one of the recommended treatments. ;-)
    Hang in there, it’ll work out.

  63. 63
    Sheppitsgal November 10, 2010 at 8:00 am #

    LOOK!! LOOK OVER THERE!!! SHINY!!!! Hugs, Mir. You so pretty xx

  64. 64
    jamie November 10, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    Surgery made a huge huge difference for me… altho I still wear a bite plate for the grinding.

    I’m thinking wonky jaw t-shirts and a club of some kind would definitely help!

  65. 65
    Kim November 10, 2010 at 11:40 am #

    2 words – Second Opinion

    I’ve had so far at least 4 different explanations for my mouth issues. And to date I’ve done exactly zero about it. Maybe there’s another option?

  66. 66
    melissa ann November 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    I went through the same thing. I had years of orthodontic work as a child/teenager, and apparently they made things worse. So at the age of 30 I got braces put back on, at 31 I had MAJOR jaw surgery, and had the braces off when I was 32 and pregnant for the first time (I demanded they come off before labor – I looked like a knocked up high schooler). Anyways, I was also told insurance would not cover, but we submitted anyway just to see – and surprise! They DID cover it! So I paid about $3000 of the $45000 surgical/braces experience. Just so you know – I have NO regrets. I’d advise looking into it. Seriously, its doable But I do recommend AGAINST getting the “clear” braces and you’ll never think KFC mashed potatoes are more delicious than when you’re on the surgical recovery!

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    Angela November 10, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    I think this $2,000 bill is to ease you into the orthodontist bills that lie ahead for Chickadee and Monkey.

    I brought my oldest to the orthodontist yesterday….total bill will be $6,000 for her. And I have one other child whose teeth are all – over – the – place!!!! So she too will soon cost us $6,000. I knew we only had two children for a reason ~ Savings in Orthodontist BIlls.

    Good Luck Mir!

  68. 68
    amy November 11, 2010 at 12:09 pm #

    And this is why I abhor the dentist. I have to call to set up a time to get a consult for wisdom teeth removal (all four wisdom teeth, I am in my thirites… cry). And I’m putting it off.

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