TMJ and Dental Sleep Medicine

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. The TMJ connects the mandible, or lower jaw, with the temporal bone of the skull. This unique joint is the most complex one in the body. The health and stability of the TMJ are essential to the overall integrity and function of the chewing system. Problems with the TMJ may be caused by a wide variety of factors, including the misalignment of the teeth and jaw, dental work, missing teeth, trauma, and muscle stress, such as clenching and grinding. TMJ disorders (TMJD) occur when the skull and jawbones, cartilage disks, muscles, nerves, and teeth all fail to work in harmony.

Symptoms of TMJD include:

  • Clenching or grinding of teeth
  • Headaches, neck pain, or migraines
  • Uneven or bad bite
  • Worn or broken teeth
  • Muscle or jaw pain
  • Jaw joint noises (popping or clicking)
  • Difficulty with chewing and eating
  • Trouble/soreness with opening and closing the mouth

SomnoDent™ Sleep Apnea Device

There is no “one size fits all” solution for TMJD, and your treatment is customized based on in-depth analysis and accurate diagnosis of the cause of your symptoms. Some of the common treatments include removable orthotic splint therapy, orthodontics, restoring worn teeth and old dental work to optimal biologic form, or replacing missing teeth in order to balance the chewing system to function normally.   For more information on the bioesthetic approach to TMJD click here.

 

Drs. Kinney uses The Biolase® Epic 10™ soft tissue diode laser, which is FDA approved for non-invasive temporary relief of minor pain, to treat pain associated with TMJD.  Treatment for TMJD can involve adjunctive healthcare providers such as physical therapists, chiropractors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, MDs, and naturopathic doctors.

Dental Sleep Medicine

Dental sleep medicine involves the management of sleep-disordered breathing, utilizing a combination of oral appliances, orthodontic treatment, and/or surgical techniques. Sleep-related breathing disorders (SBDs) may range from mild snoring to potentially life-threatening sleep apnea. The quality of your sleep has a dramatic impact on your health, well-being, and overall quality of life. Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea disrupt your sleep and increase your risk of severe health problems.

 

Prior to treatment, you should be diagnosed by a board-certified sleep medicine physician. If you have snoring without sleep apnea, your doctor should give you a prescription for an oral sleep appliance. Oral appliance therapy should be provided by a qualified dentist who has technical skills and knowledge in dental sleep medicine. Training in how to provide oral appliance therapy is uncommon in dental schools and not all dentists have the training or experience to provide optimal care for adults with snoring or sleep apnea.  The diagnosis of SBDs follows a sleep study, interpreted by a sleep medicine physician. Treatment can include:

  • Improvement in sleep habits
  • Weight loss, as applicable
  • Use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine
  • Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)
  • Orthodontics and/or Orthognathic Surgery

Drs. Amy and Todd Kinney are trained in the fabrication and use of Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) with the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. We work together with sleep medicine physicians to identify the best treatment for each patient. If CPAP treatment is not well tolerated, OAT can be an effective alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. A custom-fit oral appliance prevents the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position and helps maintain an open, unobstructed airway during sleep. There are specific dental considerations in using OAT, and with their advanced training in TMJ therapy, Drs. Kinney can provide additional support and attention to the health of the TMJs during OAT treatment.

For more information, visit the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

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