In three weeks, we're going to St. Petersburg, Florida!
(Do you have any antique or home decor shopping suggestions?)
Photo: Jack Ecka Coastal Living
The boring (but important) part of the trip is my visit to Dr. Mark Piper, a renowned TMJ surgeon (his website looks dated but check out his Facebook page).
As you know, I live with crushing headaches and was referred to Dr. Piper by my dentist, who claims Dr. Piper is far better than any TMJ dentist in Canada (and most in the USA).
Dr. Piper is both a dentist (Harvard) and a surgeon (Vanderbilt Medical School). In fact, he developed an entire system of TMJ classification which most TMJ experts use.
I have not had "mechanical" jaw issues (such as clicking, popping or locking) but I have had terrible jaw tension and increasing issues with grinding and clenching my jaw at night. I wake up in the morning with extreme face, head and neck pain. My teeth ache so badly. And yes, I have worn a "bite guard" for many years but it only protects my teeth and doesn't prevent the grinding/clenching my brain is causing.
This problem only worsened in 2012 when I changed headache medications. Before that, I wore the bite guard to protect my teeth but had no pain issues.
It is not clear to me whether this grinding/clenching is caused by my Myofascial Pain Syndrome (which creates chronic trigger points), or whether a defect/injury in my temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is causing the problem. The TM joint is the joint where the jaw bone - mandible - meets the skull in front of both ears. Recall that all my headache and neck pain started after a whiplash-type accident in 1998.
My dentist informed me that even a low speed whiplash can result in misalignment of the TM joint (the jaw moves off the small disc in the joint), resulting in both mechanical jaw issues (clicking, etc.) and possibly pain (headache, neck pain). So head and neck pain following whiplash are not necessarily due to neck (muscular) injury, as we always assume!
Dr. Piper specializes in this disc and the entire TM joint. He will look first for mechanical problems (due to congential issues, injury) at the TM joint and help address my clenching/grinding issues. I really don't believe I have any problems in the TM joint, but I desperately need help with the grinding/clenching. And at this point, I will do anything to make sure I cover all the bases.
I am seeing Dr. Piper because I have read and heard that many TMJ dentists try a variety of bite appliances and bite modifications which can actually worsen your problems.
Headaches from jaw issues can be extreme. I have heard them called suicide headaches. So you don't want someone screwing with your jaw who isn't The Best.
The Dr. Piper Experience lasts a whole day and includes CT scans, MRI's and a variety of other tests. Dr. Piper's fee is $1800 and the MRI is $1000, but I think it's worth $2800 to rule out a TMJ issue and to fix my serious grinding habit. Please send donations. hehe. :)
We have two days in St. Petersburg following my day with Dr. Piper's team.
I had no clue where any cities in Florida were located. St. Petersburg is located on the Gulf Coast, very close to Tampa, where we fly into.
Do you have any suggestions for things to see and do in the St. Petersburg/Tampa area? (We're renting an apartment on the beach!)
I'm also hoping to find a few antique or home decor shops. We won't have time to go to Disney World in Orlando but we might do a little road trip one of the two days.