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TMD & Sleep Apnoea

TMD

The ‘temporomandibular joint’ (TMJ) or commonly known as the ”jaw joint”, is where the lower jaw connects to the base of the skull. The position of this joint is just in front of your ears and it can be felt by opening and closing your jaw while gently pressing this position.

The number of patients presenting to their dentist with TMD are becoming more and more common. Smptoms may include one or more of the following:

sore jaws, toothaches, sinus problems, neck and back pain, ear aches / ringing ears, headaches / migraines, the teeth of both jaws do not feel like they are biting properly, pain when chewing or yawning, limited opening of the jaws, pain on opening or closing of the jaw, facial tension, clicking jaw (disc rubs on the bone), locked jaw.

The causes of TMD are also numerous with one or more of the following causes being responsible:

  • Ear infections
  • Injuries to the jaw joint
  • Autoimmune disorders such as osteo or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dental fillings not properly adjusted
  • Grinding and or clenching of the teeth
  • Stress: emotional and/or physical
  • Bad occlusion
  • Anatomical deformities

Diagnosis of TMD can be difficult due to its numerous causes and symptoms. A systematic approach must be performed by your FirstBite dentist to rule out all possible causes before treatment can be commenced. Your dentist will normally co-ordinate with other healthcare professionals to prepare a treatment plan so that all aspects of the problem, being physical and/or emotional are dealt with.

Patients will be referred to a general medical practioner to eradicate it being a medical problem if it does not appear to be a dental problem.

SLEEP APNOEA

One out of ten Australian adults, two will experience snoring during their lifetime. Snoring usually causes no significant medical problem. However for some people, snoring may indicate a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnoea (pronounced ap-nee-ah).

During normal breathing, air is drawn through the nose and past soft tissues at the back of the throat. These tissues include the uvula, the soft palate and the tongue. During waking hours, the airways are held open by the tone of the muscles around them. During sleep, these muscles relax. In some people, the soft tissues may relax too much (or collapse), leading to obstruction of the airways.

People who have obstructive sleep apnoea almost always snore loudly and usually have a number of other symptoms, including: choking or gasping during sleep, tiredness on waking, sore, dry throat on waking, morning headache, excessive daytime sleepiness, poor concentration or memory deterioration.

Proper diagnosis of the cause of sleep apnoea is essential so that the most appropriate treatment can be offered. People with symptomatic snoring should be assessed in a sleep disorder clinic before any treatment starts.

Obstructive sleep apnoea can be harmful to health and may ultimately lead to life-threatening conditions such as stroke, heat disease or an increase in blood pressure. The use of specialized mouthpieces known as oral appliances can be an effective method of treating both snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.

Oral appliances are fitted by a dentist who is trained in their use, usually in consultation with a respiratory or sleep-disorder physician.

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