TMJ and Sleep Apnea

TMJ and Sleep Apnea Treatment for Our Fort Worth and Dallas patients

One of the advantages of visiting Granbury Dental Center is that, thanks to the advanced training of Dr. Baird and Dr. Buske, we can often diagnose and correct problems that you may not even consider being related to dentistry. Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can cause headaches, neck aches and backaches, stuffiness or pain in the ears, and dizziness or fainting, but rarely does the typical patient think to consult their dentist when suffering from any of these symptoms. Frequently, TMJ sufferers mistakenly believe that they have an ear infection. Similarly, as many as 12 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but few know that a dental professional can often diagnose and treat this potentially life-threatening condition.

At Granbury Dental Center, we have provided safe, effective TMJ treatment and sleep apnea treatment for patients throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

What Is TMJ disorder?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the lower jaw to the rest of the skull, is one of the most complex joints in the human body. Where most joints move back-and-forth or hinge along one plane of movement, the sophistication of the TMJ allows it to both rotate and slide. However, because the joint is so complex, if problems begin to develop with a TMJ it can cause a variety of symptoms. In fact, patients with TMJ disorder often have difficulty getting a proper diagnosis and treatment for their condition because many of the symptoms may seem to have little to do with the jaw itself and medical doctors who are not used to dealing with complex dental issues may not recognize the signs of the disorder.

Some symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing mouth
  • Earaches
  • Ringing, buzzing, stuffiness, or popping in the ears
  • Persistent, recurring headaches
  • Limited jaw movement, difficulty opening or closing jaw
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Pain or jaw weakness when chewing
  • Grinding of the teeth (bruxism)
  • Stiffness or pain in the face, neck, shoulders, or back
  • Numbness in hands
  • Restlessness and difficulty sleeping
  • Depression

If you have any of the above symptoms, and you suspect it may be a sign of TMJ disorder, contact Granbury Dental Center to schedule a consultation today.

TMJ Treatment

TMJ disorder can have a number of causes, including jaw misalignment, unbalanced muscles, and trauma to the head or jaw due to whiplash or similar injuries. TMJ treatment can vary according to the causes of each particular case, which is why it is important to seek the advice of a knowledgeable dentist.

The initial step in TMJ treatment at our Dallas-area clinic is a thorough examination, which includes an extensive review of each patient’s medical and dental history, an evaluation to check the range of jaw motion, digital x-rays, and a bite evaluation with the advanced T-Scan® dental occlusion scanning tool.

Once we properly diagnose the cause of the TMJ disorder, we can then proceed with creating a treatment plan designed to alleviate the problem. Depending on the severity of the disorder, treatment can involve several phases; the first goal is to restore a normal range of motion to the jaw, alleviate pain, and relieve any muscle spasms. Once this has been achieved, the next step is to correct and stabilize the bite, usually through the use of an occlusal bite splint, a custom-fitted, removable dental appliance that fits over the teeth and is usually worn at night. In more severe cases, bite correction may involve reshaping of selected teeth using crowns or orthodontics; in a small number of extreme cases, surgery may be required to correct damaged joints. However, we emphasize conservative, non-surgical TMJ treatment in the majority of cases, and have helped many patients from Dallas, Fort Worth, and Granbury, Texas regain normal jaw function without the need for surgical treatment.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder which is characterized by interruptions of the normal breathing cycle during periods of sleep. These interruptions can sometimes occur hundreds of times during a night’s sleep and can last up to a minute or more. Sleep apnea is a common condition, affecting over 12 million Americans. Those most commonly affected by sleep apnea include individuals who are:

  • Of male gender
  • Obese
  • Over forty years of age
  • Users of alcohol

However, sleep apnea can and does affect many other people as well, including women, children, and people of average weight. Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause cardiovascular difficulties, headaches, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, impotence, or weight gain; in severe cases, this condition can be potentially life-threatening and lead to irregular heartbeat, heart attack, or stroke.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea indicates that the lungs are functioning normally, but no oxygen is getting into the system due to an obstruction in the upper airway. In central sleep apnea, the upper airway is open but the brain’s respiratory control centers are not stimulating the lungs and diaphragm properly during sleep; mixed sleep apnea combines symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common form of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

At Granbury Dental Center, we provide obstructive sleep apnea treatment for patients in the Dallas/Fort Worth area by creating removable oral appliances, or splints, which are worn by sleep apnea sufferers at night to help ensure that the upper airway stays open. With these custom-tailored appliances, we can successfully treat most mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea without the necessity for surgical treatment. These appliances have also been shown to be highly effective at reducing snoring.

To find out whether you are a candidate for sleep apnea treatment at our Dallas/Fort Worth area clinic, make an appointment at Granbury Dental Center today.