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Over 50% of patients using Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), which is usually prescribed by sleep professionals, complain that they have a difficult time wearing the apparatus on a consistent basis. The mask over the nose and/or mouth delivers pressurized air though the nose while sleeping. Many patients also complain that the strap around the head causes headaches. Surgery is often suggested as an alternative, but it is costly and invasive with unpredictable results. Too often, patients give up on a treatment when a simple airway sleep appliance could have resulted in success. Benefits of an airway appliance over the other therapies include being cost effective, non-invasive, and well accepted by patients.

Oral Airway Appliance Treatment

With so many advances in the dental field, dentists are now able to conservatively and successfully treat those with snoring or mild to moderate sleep apnea. Working together, with sleep physicians, our special training and education makes us a valuable member of the "sleep team".

When oral evaluation reveals an airway restriction due to chronically enlarged tonsils, an enlarged tongue or a soft palate abnormality, an oral sleep appliance can be a successful treatment.

Airway sleep appliances are light and easy to wear. They fit over the teeth (upper and lower usually). Their purpose is to move the lower jaw forward and downward, causing a positive change in the jaw and/or tongue position, which opens the airway.

An appliance worn during sleep helps prevent the airway collapsing by creating extra airway space.

An appliance will be chosen which meets the specific needs of each individual. Some have even been evaluated and approved by the FDA. Our office will recommend the best appliance for each individual. Some insurance companies may reimburse the cost of a sleep appliance.

Seemingly "incurable" headache, ear pain or facial pain could be generated by your jaw joints, bite and/or spasm in the facial muscles. The majority of TMD sufferers are women; however, it also affects men, children and adolescents. Often, patients endure a frustrating and expensive "search" for answers and relief of these symptoms:
  • Chronic headaches
  • Ear fullness or pain
  • Dizziness
  • Clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint
  • Limited jaw opening or locking
  • Pain when chewing
  • Facial Pain
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Tired jaws
  • Difficulty closing the teeth together
  • Swallowing difficulty and snoring

TMD can be caused by trauma such as strains, sprains, injuries (whiplash, blow to head or neck), or the teeth not meeting properly. The teeth can appear to be perfectly straight, but this can be deceiving. The patient may still have a problem because the alignment (occlusion) does not match with the correct jaw joint or muscle position. While general dentists are normally not trained to recognize TMD problems, our office has acquired the intense special education and training needed to look for the appropriate teeth and jaw position. This is especially important before orthodontic treatment, which may be the suggested "finishing" treatment in many cases of TMD.

Diagnoses & Treatment

Our office performs a comprehensive head and neck evaluation, extensive health history, special x-rays and other tests that include muscle function. A team approach and open communication with physicians and other health professionals bring effective "team management" to help alleviate the problem. Many times, otolaryngologists (ear, nose and throat doctors), neurologists, chiropractors and rheumatologists, primary care providers, and others can be of tremendous value in treatment success.

These methods of treatment may include:
  • Custom fabricated orthotics (splints) to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by stabilizing the TM joints in the appropriate position
  • Physical medicine modalities (laser, spray and stretch or therapeutic massage)
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Stress management
  • Jaw exercises
  • Applied kinesiology
  • Electrical treatments
A common perpetuating factor found in TMD, chronic pain and fibromyalgia can be sleep related. It could be something as simple as snoring or jerking awake at night due to snoring or sleep apnea.

Source: TMData Resources

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