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TMJ treatment discussed by Gettysburg dentist

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, May 13, 2015 @ 07:05 AM

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The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull in front of each ear. This joint allows you to move your jaw up and down and side to side. This is part of the anatomy of your head that makes it possible to talk, yawn and chew. 

Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). 

The TMJ is both a critical part of functioning but it can also be a source of pain.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of TMJ disorders can include:

  • Aching around your ear
  • Difficulty chewing 
  • Facial pain
  • Locking of the joint
  • Pain in your jaw

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain in the TMJ joint specifically
  • Bruxing, (teeth grinding), and joint popping
  • Difficulty opening the mouth without pain
  • Joint popping or clicking
  • Headaches

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, (NIDCR), recommends a conservative approach to TMJ pain. Surgery should be a last resort.  Treatments that do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth have proven to be effective and reliable. 

Steps to Relieve TMJ Pain You Can do for Yourself

  • Eat soft foods.
  • Apply ice packs.
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements.
  • Practice reducing stress and relaxing techniques. 
  • Gentle jaw stretching.

Pain medication

For some people with TMJ disorders, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief. 

Jaw Splints

Your dentist may recommend  a stabilization jaw splint (oral appliance), or orthotic appliance  that fits over the upper or lower teeth. A well adjusted splint can often relax tense muscles, relieve muscle tension headaches and help protect the jaw joints. Often the splint appliance is adjusted to the optimum bite over a period of weeks or months and often it is only worn at night when bruxing, (tooth grinding) often occurs.

If you suffer from TMJ pain or muscle tension headaches talk with your dentist.  A well adjusted appliance you wear at night may help.

 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local, Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

 

717-334-0555   GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Sleep and Snore Appliances "I can't Tolerate my CPAP!"

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, May 6, 2015 @ 09:05 AM

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Sleep therapies can be frustrating for those who suffer from severe snoring and sleep apnea. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 50-70 million adults have some sort of sleep disorder that causes snoring, a major indicator of obstructive sleep problems. 

However, there is a distinction. Although many people snore, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. And, not everyone who suffers from sleep apnea, snores. 

How you feel during the day will tell you whether you have severe snoring problems or sleep apnea. Normal snoring doesn’t interfere with the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea does, so you’re less likely to suffer from extreme fatigue and sleepiness during the day.

If you are like most people who have severe snoring problems, snoring can get in the way of your partner’s rest and affect your own sleep quality and health. 

It's likely a solution will include the prescription of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. It works by forcing a constant and steady air pressure into your body using a hose and wearing a mask or nose piece. Unfortunately there are problems with the device as it is not uncommon that the mask will leak, it's uncomfortable, cumbersome and many people have trouble falling asleep with something over the face. It is also a big problem for people with claustrophobia and can result in a dry mouth or nose.

Many people with severe snoring and sleep apnea ask the same question, "What if I can't tolerate my CPAP?"

There are alternative therapies that have proven to work well, such as the use of a dental sleep appliance. The appliance is designed to help control snoring and sleep apnea.  

It’s custom made to fit your particular mouth and bite and looks a lot like a sports mouth guard. It works by positioning the lower jaw down and forward thereby helping to keep the airway open and preventing problems in breathing. Your dentist is able to fit and adjust the appliance to optimally open the airway. 

Successful results from a study by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine showed that using the appliance significantly reduced sleep interruptions and snoring.

For more information about the dental sleep and snore appliances, please contact us. We are pleased to discuss this and any dental services from our office. 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

334-0555  GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

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