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TMJ & Sleep Apnea

apnea

TEMPOROMANDIBULAR DISORDER (TMD)
Millions of Americans suffer from chronic facial and neck pain as well as recurring headaches. In some cases, this pain is due to Temporomandibular Disorder, or TMD. Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints get a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.

SYMPTOMS OF TMD INCLUDE


* Pain in the jaw area
* Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears.
* Frequent headaches or neck aches
* Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves.
* Swelling on the sides of the face
* Muscle spasms in the jaw area.
* A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
* Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth.

Should you notice any of these symptoms, let your doctor know. Your dentist can help indicate the presence of TMD and create an effective treatment just for you. There are a few simple steps you can take at home or work to prevent TMD from becoming more severe, or to prevent it from occurring:
* Relax your face — remember the rule: "Lips together, teeth apart"
* Avoid grinding your teeth* Avoid constant gum chewing
* Don't cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder — either use a headset or hold the receiver in your hand
* Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
* Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand* Practice good posture — keep your head up, back straight, and shoulders squared


sleep apnea

SLEEP APNEA


Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.
WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA? 
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it, and many believe they are getting a good night's sleep when, in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day. 

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SLEEP APNEA? 
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.
* Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
* Loud snoring at night
* Waking up at night short of breath
* Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
* Headaches upon waking in the morning
* Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
* Extreme drowsiness throughout the day

ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF SLEEP APNEA? 
There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain. And some people suffer from "mixed" or "complex" sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central. 

WHAT ARE RISK FACTORS FOR SLEEP APNEA? 
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in males than females, and more common in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children. However, anyone — regardless of gender or age — can suffer from sleep apnea. Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors. 

IS SLEEP APNEA DANGEROUS? 
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated it can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as danger when driving or operating heavy machinery. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medication or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery. 

HOW IS SLEEP APNEA TREATED? 
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs. Beyond that, oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the best option. 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT THAT SOMEONE IN MY FAMILY SUFFERS FROM SLEEP APNEA? 
Contact our practice, and we can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem, and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that we can custom-create for you.

Teeth Grinding/ bruxism

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, refers to excessive grinding of the teeth and/or excessive clenching of the jaw, usually occurring when one sleeps. If you wake up with jaw pain, tension headaches, or facial pain, you may be suffering from bruxism. Some people aren’t even aware they are grinding or clenching their teeth at night, until a visit to us reveals significant tooth enamel loss or damage to restorations.

Tension, stress, and anxiety experienced during the daytime can carry over to an individual’s sleep, and lead the person to grind his or her teeth together or clench the teeth unknowingly. Regardless of the cause, however, frequent clenching and grinding wears down the chewing surfaces of the teeth, reduces tooth enamel, and can result in a cracked or chipped tooth, crown, or filling.

TREATMENT OPTIONS

Fortunately, there is a non-invasive and effective solution for teeth grinding, and the tooth enamel damage it can cause, in custom-fabricated nightguards. Nightguards are created through a non-invasive process that includes taking an impression of the bottom and top rows of teeth. The result is a nightguard that is flexible, comfortable, and personalized to your mouth. Although it’s important to wear your nightguard faithfully if you grind your teeth at night, you can also follow a few self-care tips to help to prevent your teeth grinding from worsening.

Reduce tension and stress. 

Whether you take a warm bath before bed, listen to soothing music, or exercise, practicing stress-relieving activities can help alleviate stress and tension.


Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

In some patients, alcohol and caffeine can increase teeth-grinding tendencies.


Focus on relaxing jaw muscles. 

Make a conscious effort to keep your jaw relaxed. A warm washcloth against your cheek, sticking your tongue between your teeth, and avoiding chewing pencils, pens, and gum are all ways to train the muscles of your jaw to stay relaxed. Remember: lips together, teeth apart!

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