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TMJ & Sleep Apnea Specialist

C&R Dental Care -  - Cosmetic & General Dentist

C&R Dental Care

Cosmetic & General Dentists & Dental Implant Specialists located in Tysons, VA

When you have pain, locking, or other problems with your temporomandibular joint, you want relief. TMJ issues, also known as temporomandibular disorders, affect the joint that attaches the bones in front of each ear to your jaw. TMJ issues can lead to pain and relate to the serious condition of obstructive sleep apnea. At C & R Dental Care, the expert dental team offers solutions to TMD and sleep apnea. If you’re in the area of Centreville, Virginia, or Columbia, Maryland, call the office or use the online booking agent to find out how splints and night guards might bring you relief.

TMJ/Sleep Apnea Q & A

What causes TMD?

You can suffer TMD due to an injury to your jaw or the muscles of your head and neck. Other causes include:        

  • Stress, which causes you to tighten the facial muscles and clench
    your teeth
  • Arthritis      
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth as you sleep

What are the symptoms of TMD?

You may have pain in your jaw that makes it obvious that you’re suffering from TMD. Other symptoms associated with the condition are:     

  • Pain and tenderness around your ears, shoulders, and face
  • Problems with opening your mouth wide to yawn or take a big bite
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joint
  • Swelling on one side of your face
  • Fatigue in the facial muscles
  • Sudden uncomfortable bites while chewing or trouble chewing
  • Headaches, earaches, and dizziness
    also can arise as a result of TMD. At C & R Dental Care, the dental team
    even sees toothaches that are a side effect of the condition.

How is TMD diagnosed?

If you come in with symptoms that suggest TMD, the dental team does a thorough exam. They rule out any tooth decay or other conditions that can cause similar symptoms.

They may order an X-ray of the joint to look for bite misalignment. A physical exam reveals any pain or clicking sounds in the joint.

How is TMD treated?

At C & R Dental Care, the dental team often recommends you first try at-home treatments, such as a soft food diet, over-the-counter pain medications, and heat/cold packs for pain. You
may need dental work to replace missing teeth or the placement of crowns to balance the biting surfaces of your teeth if it seems a bite problem is causing your TMD.

If you tend to grind and clench your teeth at night, the team may also recommend night guards and splints. You wear these mouthpieces to discourage you from squeezing tightly with your
facial and jaw muscles. You wear a night guard while you sleep. But, if you tend to clench all day long, you may need a splint, which is worn during the day as well.

How does TMD relate to sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea describes a condition in which you experience very shallow breathing — or stop breathing altogether — when you sleep. It can happen hundreds of times a night, preventing you from getting a solid night’s sleep. Sleep apnea can make you experience excessive daytime drowsiness and increase your risk of developing chronic disease, including heart disease.

Research shows that TMD and sleep apnea often correlate and occur together. TMD often leads to an imbalance in your bite, making the tongue displace during sleep — potentially causing the apneas. The looser joints associated with TMD can also cause your jaw to fall farther back, potentially compromising your airway during sleep.

Sleep apnea also raises your risk of TMD. If an oral appliance used to treat sleep apnea isn’t fit quite right, it can irritate your jaw and lead to TMD. People with sleep apnea may also tense their jaws and grind their teeth at night in an attempt to create the right space in the airway. This can inflame TMJ or exacerbate an existing problem.

How is sleep apnea treated?

The team at C & R Dental Care may provide you with an oral appliance for you to wear during sleep. These appliances align your jaw and allow you to experience positive airflow as you sleep, naturally. They hold your lower jaw down slightly, so the tongue stays farther away from the back of the airway, facilitating a clear airway.

The dentists take great care in fitting the device so they find the acceptable range of placement for you and avoid aggravating or causing TMJ issues.

If you suffer from pain or dysfunction in your jaw and/or disordered sleeping, visit the offices of C & R Dental Care for a solution. Call today for an appointment.