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TMJ and Sleep Apnea

TMJ Disorder / Sleep Apnea Intervention

Breathing and swallowing are essential to daily life, and impairments to either function should be resolved swiftly by a knowledgeable professional. Dr. Charles Añonuevo of Inspire Dentistry of the Carolinas offers state-of-the-art intervention for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, which can affect swallowing, and sleep apnea, which can affect breathing. With his help, you can get back on the path to great health and overall wellness.

Understanding TMJ Disorder

The TMJ is the joint that connects your jaw to your lower skull. Located on either side of your head in front of your ears, the TMJ is a complex system that includes the jaw bone, muscles and ligaments. A properly functioning TMJ is necessary to chewing, swallowing and speaking. If the joint sustains an injury or other damage, it can result in painful, debilitating TMJ disorder (a.k.a., TMD). Common causes of TMD include a traumatic blow to the jaw, arthritis, alignment problems with the teeth or jaw and chronic teeth grinding.

Symptoms of TMD

TMD can have many different symptoms, including the following:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Headaches
  • Ear pain
  • Clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth
  • Ringing of the ears (tinnitus)
  • Vertigo
  • Limited range of motion opening the jaw

TMD Intervention Options

Treating TMD depends on the circumstances of the specific case, including the source cause. Dr. Añonuevo may recommend patients make lifestyle changes at home, such as eating soft foods, using muscle relaxants and practicing relaxation techniques to minimize stress that is triggering jaw tension. Some cases require a special splint that repositions the jaw. Dr. Añonuevo may need to fix the way the teeth bite together or even reshape some teeth. His goal is always to alleviate pain while addressing the cause of the discomfort.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in normal breathing during sleep. This happens when the tissues at the back of the throat collapse, blocking the flow of air. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud, constant snoring. The interruptions in breathing can also cause choking or gasping noises. Many people with undiagnosed sleep apnea feel extremely tired and irritable during the day and find mental functions like concentration and memory to be impaired. Dry mouth, dry throat and headaches are common, too.

Sleep Apnea Intervention Options

Dr. Añonuevo cannot formally diagnose sleep apnea, but he can recommend patients for a sleep study to confirm sleep apnea. Once diagnosed, patients can be fitted with a special oral device that repositions the jaw forward. This appliance prevents the tissues from collapsing at the back of the throat, and keeps the airway unobstructed. Many patients strongly prefer the small, lightweight devices over traditional CPAP machines.

Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Añonuevo

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with either TMD or sleep apnea, Dr. Añonuevo encourages you to book an appointment with him. Please call or email Inspire Dentistry of the Carolinas today.

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