Bruxism, TMJ and Snoring Treatments
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint)
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is, simply stated, your jaw joint. It is located directly in front of your ears on each side of your head. The TMJ allows your lower jaw to move up and down and from side to side when you chew, talk and swallow. You can locate this joint by putting your fingers forward of that triangular structure in front of your ear or by putting your little finger in the ear canal and opening and closing your mouth.
In people with TMJ disorders, this simple maneuver often causes pain. TMJ dysfunction can cause ear pain, sore jaw muscles, temple or cheek pain, toothache-like pain, jaw popping and clicking, difficulty opening the mouth fully and frequent head and neck aches. Problems that originate in the temporomandibular joints can often be resolved simply and quickly by simply eating soft foods, avoiding gum chewing, avoiding clenching, using over-the-counter pain relievers or relaxing the muscles with moist heat. However, at times, treatment by a dental professional is necessary. Dr. Ellis has both the training and experience to diagnose TMJ problems and solve those problems with the most appropriate therapy, which most often, consists of an intra-oral appliance to relax the jaw muscles. When more involved treatment is required, procedures will be fully explained before treatment is undertaken.
Snoring is the sound of obstructed breathing during sleep. While snoring may be harmless (benign snoring), it can also be the sign of a more serious medical condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When you breathe normally, air passes through the nose and past the flexible structures in the back of the throat such as the soft palate, uvula and tongue. While you are awake, muscles hold the airway open. When you fall asleep, these muscles relax, but, normally, the airway stays open. Snoring occurs when the structures in the throat are large and when the muscles relax enough to cause the airway to narrow and partially obstruct the flow of air. As air tries to pass through these obstructions, the throat structures vibrate causing the sound we know as snoring. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway, causing air flow to stop. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again – usually with a loud gasp. People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep, and low blood oxygen levels. OSA has been associated with high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and excessive daytime sleepiness. Snoring not only affects the health and well-being of the person snoring but also the health and well-being of his or her bed partner leading to marital difficulties. At Central Park Dental Spa we are concerned with your health and can provide, in consultation with your physician, a non-invasive and reversible treatment for snoring with oral appliances. Oral appliances that treat snoring are devices worn in the mouth, similar to orthodontic retainers or sports mouthguards. They are comfortable and easy to wear and care for, small and convenient, making them easy to carry with you when you travel. Oral appliance therapy is becoming recognized by the medical community as an effective treatment option in the management of sleep breathing disorders such as snoring.
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
If your jaw feels stiff or if you have difficulty opening your mouth wide, you may be grinding your teeth at night. Called “Bruxism”, people with night-time grinding habits can wear away tooth enamel and eventually destroy their teeth requiring crowns and bridges to restore. Often a simple, plastic guard, worn over the teeth at night, can protect them from costly and painful damage as well as relieving head, neck, jaw joint and shoulder pain.