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Sleep Apnea, TMJ & Snoring

If The Positioning Or Alignment Of Your Jaw Joint Is Skewed, It Can Contribute To Numerous Issues Such As Sleep Apnea And Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders. These Disorders Can Result In Significant Discomfort And Affect Your Quality Of Life And Your Health.

Often patients respond well to conservative interventions that address these issues. Our process begins with a comprehensive evaluation that assesses all of the factors that may be involved in your condition. After identifying the particular culprits, we can then move forward with effective treatment.

We encourage patients who suspect that they have sleep apnea or those experiencing jaw pain or other TMJ symptoms to contact our office to schedule your evaluation so that you can get relief from those symptoms.



Sleep Appliance

Sleep Apnea: Symptoms and Risks

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a patient stops breathing for brief periods while they are asleep. In the most severe cases, these apneic episodes can occur up to 100 times an hour. Typically, sleep apnea results from obstruction of the airway caused by the collapse of the soft tissue at the back of the throat.

If you have sleep apnea, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Identifiable apneic episodes (noticed by a sleep partner)
  • Loud snoring (noticed by a sleep partner)
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Morning headaches or mood changes
  • Attention difficulties
  • Mood issues, including irritability and depression

Patients who believe that they may have sleep apnea should confirm the diagnosis by undergoing a sleep study. The results of the sleep study can then guide treatment.

Getting effective sleep apnea treatment is important because the condition is associated with some serious health risks, including:

  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease

Due to the potentially serious consequences of these conditions, patients should not delay seeking treatment after receiving a sleep apnea diagnosis.

Sleep Apnea: Treatment Options

Because the positioning of the jaw and/or tongue can create the conditions that result in apneic episodes, oral appliance therapy can be highly effective in eliminating sleep apnea. The oral appliance holds the jaw or tongue forward to keep the soft tissues away from the airway opening.

Some congenital issues, such as a narrow airway or a deviated septum, may also need to be addressed in order for the patient to get complete relief from sleep apnea symptoms. In such cases, we will refer you to a specialist, such as an ENT, who can treat these concerns.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/ TMD)

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ/ TMD), is a common disorder of the jaw joint and corresponding muscles, affecting more than 60 million patients each year. The condition is often mistaken for an earache or dismissed as a “normal” symptom of daily stress. The symptoms can range from occasional discomfort to chronic dysfunction, and may include:

  • Popping and clicking as you open and close the mouth
  • Shifting of the jaw as you open the mouth
  • Headache, ear ache, neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in the jaw joint
  • Limited ability to open the mouth

By identifying the cause of your symptoms, we can provide treatment solutions that are designed to prevent them. Most patients experience an increase in their TMJ/TMD symptoms in response to physical or emotional stress. Habits such as clenching or grinding of the teeth can overwork the muscles that control the jaw. Since this occurs most frequently at night, most patients find it difficult or impossible to control.

The appropriate treatment for TMJ/TMD can vary depending on your lifestyle habits, the severity of the condition, and the health of your bite and jaw joints. Typically, prevention is the best solution for most patients. This may include avoiding chewing gums and foods that are difficult to chew. It may also be helpful to adjust your bite and improve the way that your teeth fit together.

Diagnosing and Treating TMJ Disorders

Our comprehensive assessment of all of the structures that make up your jaw joint will help us to identify the specific issue at fault for your TMJ disorder and point us in the direction of the most effective treatment options. This assessment may involve:

  • History of symptoms
  • Examination of the bite, head neck and facial exam
  • Assessment of the jaw’s range of motion
  • Imaging – Doppler ultrasound, MRI or Cone Beam Computed Tomography

Depending on the findings of the evaluation, we may recommend one or more of the following interventions:

  • Oral appliance therapy
  • Reconstructing the bite
  • Nerve block
  • Joint flushing

If these more conservative measures fail to give you relief from your symptoms or if there is clear damage to the disc or joint, we may refer you to an oral surgeon so that you can explore surgical treatment options.

Common Sleep Apnea, TMJ & Snoring Questions

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a patient’s airway becomes obstructed repeatedly while they are asleep, causing them to stop breathing for a very brief period until the brain rouses them in order to restore normal breathing patterns. In addition to disrupting sleep, this condition can result in the body having insufficient oxygen levels, which has a cascade of negative health effects.
A TMJ disorder occurs when one of the jaw’s many components malfunctions, causing pain and other associated symptoms for the patient. A TMJ disorder can be caused by a malocclusion (improper alignment of the jaw), muscle tension, disc damage, congenital defects or other issues.

Your jaw is one of the most complex joints in the human body, comprised of multiple muscles, tendons, discs and nerve structures in addition to the maxilla and mandible. All of those components must function in concert to facilitate the jaw’s movement in multiple plains.

However, when even one of those components fails, a TMJ disorder (TMD) can develop. The hallmark symptom of TMD is jaw pain, which can vary in nature and severity. Other symptoms that can result from TMD include:

  • Locking, clicking or popping in the jaw joint
  • Pain that radiates to the ear, neck or other areas of the face
  • Difficulty chewing

Because there are so many possible causes of TMD, patients experiencing these symptoms should visit our office for a thorough assessment of the jaw joint.

TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder, while TMJ refers to the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) itself.