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Sleep Apnea

How Does an Oral Appliance for Sleep Apnea Work?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that is treated using oral appliance therapy. It occurs when your regular breathing is interrupted when you are sleeping. Sleep apnea affects people of all ages. If a person does not seek treatment for the condition, it can lead to several health problems, including high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, diabetes and depression. However, this treatment is not suitable for every person with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). People are often advised to always consult a qualified doctor to find out if an oral appliance will help and if they are good candidates for them.

Oral appliance therapy

OSA, a common type of sleep apnea, happens due to a blockage of the airway, often when the soft tissue at the back of a person’s throat ends up collapsing during sleep. Oral appliances are a good option for people who have mild or moderate OSA or snoring. These devices can hold the tongue in place to ensure that the airway remains open during sleep. A patient is supposed to place the dental device into the mouth at night just before going to bed. It should be worn while sleeping and taken out when a person wakes up.

Oral appliances

Oral appliances can effectively pull or push the lower jaw forward. This helps ensure that the tongue will not block the airway. It basically reduces the likelihood of the tongue obstructing the airway when a person is sleeping and the risk of snoring. These devices have helped many people deal with snoring problems.

How to make sure an oral appliance is working

If an oral appliance is working well, a person will sleep better and have more energy. An oral appliance may improve symptoms of OSA like daytime sleepiness, fatigue, moodiness and trouble concentrating. A repeat overnight sleep study offers a good way of figuring out if an oral appliance is helping a patient. This should be carried out with the dental device in place. If the results of the study are good, a patient will be advised to continue using the oral appliance. In a case where the symptoms return, a person should schedule an appointment with either the doctor or dentist.


Treating OSA using oral appliances can help a patient’s sleep problem. Oral appliances are usually effective when a person has moderate or mild sleep apnea. These devices help patients by improving symptoms associated with OSA. However, not every patient can get the same benefits from oral appliances. For these patients, other treatment options are needed.


Oral appliances can help shift and support the jaw in order to ensure the airway does not collapse. Keeping your throat open can help relieve your sleep apnea. Treating your obstructive sleep apnea and snoring can improve your quality of life especially if you continue wearing the oral appliance. With the help of your dentist, you can improve your sleep and your overall health. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, talk to your dentist or doctor for more information.


Botox® and Dental Improvements

Botox® is a drug made from the bacterial toxin botulin that is used medically to treat some muscular conditions and cosmetically to remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing facial muscles. While the cosmetic use of Botox® is widely known, not too many people know that it is also used in dentistry.

Using Botox® to make dental improvements

When Botox® is injected into a muscle, it attaches to the ends of the nerves that control the muscle. After a few days, the toxin works to block the transmission of the nerve signals that cause muscle contractions. The nerves affected by Botox® are connected to motor neurons, but the toxin does not affect the nerves connected to sensory neurons, which are the nerves needed to touch, feel pain and temperature. The nerves are blocked for three to four months before the Botox® wears off.

How is Botox® used in dentistry?

The use of Botox® in dentistry has become more popular in recent years, and research studies are being conducted to investigate its uses. According to the Journal of International Oral Health, Botox® has been used to correct lockjaw, Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, parafunctional clenching and the headaches that accompany them.

Botox® is often used in dental offices as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, but not as a stand-alone procedure. The dentists who use Botox® have to have received appropriate education and training prior to administering Botox®.

Before a patient undergoes Botox® treatment at their dentists, they should make sure that they understand the risks, benefits and costs by asking questions about their treatment plan and the use of Botox® to achieve their desired result.

Are there side effects associated with the use of Botox®?

Yes, according to the Food and Drug Administration, if Botox® is allowed to accidentally spread through the body, the toxin can cause muscle weakness, swallowing difficulties, dangerous breathing, as well as urinary incontinence. However, resistance to Botox® is possible over time if the patient has been given high doses of the toxin repeatedly.

When a patient has developed a tolerance for Botox®, a different form of the toxin may be needed to achieve the same results.

Can I get Botox® treatment at any dentist?

No, Botox® is offered by some dentists, but a lot of dentists do not offer treatment that includes the use of Botox®. If using Botox® to achieve a treatment goal is important to a patient, they can go online to search for a dentist that offers Botox® treatment. However, it is important that they make sure that the dentist is qualified to administer the toxin.

Even though the use of Botox® in dentistry still requires a lot of research and education for both the patient and dental health professional, there is a belief that it will become more common in the near future.


Botox® is known for its uses in cosmetic surgery, but it also has some dental benefits, which is why dentists have started administering it in their practices. If you are interested in learning more about how Botox® is used in dentistry, schedule an appointment with a dentist that provides the service to find out more.

BOTOX® Jaw Problems Orofacial Pain TMJ

BOTOX® For TMJ Treatment – Your Questions Answered

As a board-certified orofacial pain specialist in NYC and Long Island, I’ve used BOTOX® for TMJ treatment for over fifteen years. If jaw problems greet you upon waking up in the morning, limit your food choices, prompt you to take pain medications like Advil®, Aleve®, or Tylenol® on a routine basis, and have had a negative impact on your life, BOTOX® injections may be something for you to consider.

7 Common Questions About BOTOX®® For TMJ Treatment

BOTOX® for TMJ treatment is a subject around which there is a considerable amount of confusion. To make the best decision for yourself, you should know what BOTOX® is, how it is administered for TMJ treatment, and how to choose the right health provider. Here are 7 of the most common questions I get from new patients and the answers:

  1. What Is v®?

    v®, or botulinum toxin, is what’s known as a neuromodulator. Neuromodulators reduce the ability of a muscle to contract to its maximum capacity. In BOTOX® for TMJ treatment, it is injected into your temporalis and masseter muscles, which are the muscles that enable you to bring your upper and lower teeth together.

    botox for tmj in nyc and long island, donald tanenbaum, BOTOX® masseter, BOTOX® temporalis

    When we inject BOTOX® into masseter and temporalis muscles, it partially inhibits their ability to tighten to their fullest extent. The result is a reduction in the force of jaw clenching and grinding – one of the common causes of TMJ pain. When the force is lessened, the pain being experienced is also often reduced.

    BOTOX® can also reduce the bulk and size of your jaw muscles. Some patients come to my office simply seeking to change the shape of their jaw or reduce the size of their masseter muscles.

  2. What’s The Difference Between BOTOX® For Wrinkles & BOTOX® For TMJ Treatment?

    In your face, you have “muscles of facial expression.” These muscles enable you to frown, scowl, flare your nostrils, move your eyelids, and smile. To do so, they pull on your skin. As you age and your skin loses some elasticity, it causes wrinkles to appear.

    BOTOX® injections have been found to effectively reduce or even eliminate wrinkles by reducing the ability of the muscles to pull on your skin. But, the forces of facial expression are always present, so the use of BOTOX® injections to reduce wrinkles is a lifetime commitment.

    BOTOX® for TMJ treatment works differently – instead of injecting into your muscles of facial expression, the injections are into your “muscles of mastication” (your jaw muscles). During an office visit, BOTOX® is commonly injected into four to six areas in the masseter muscle and three to four areas in the temporalis muscles.

    While skin wrinkling is a normal part of aging, overworked and symptomatic jaw muscles are not. They get that way for a reason, regardless of whether you’re 18 or 80.

    BOTOX® can be a valuable tool to allow your jaw muscles to heal if your pain and stiffness persist after the risk factors that caused your TMJ problems have been identified, reduced, or eliminated.

  3. How Long Does It Take For BOTOX® To Kick-In?

    BOTOX® and other neuromodulators, such as Xeomin®, can be life-changing. But the benefits do not kick-in right away, and most people have to wait four days to a week before they experience the first indication of relief. Here’s why:

    Your muscles contain and rely on a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine which enables them to contract. After BOTOX® injections, it will take a few days for your muscles to use up their supply of acetylcholine. When the level of acetylcholine drops and is not replenished to its normal level, the positive effects of the injections are usually felt.

  4. How Long Will The Benefits Last?

    The vast majority of TMJ patients that chose BOTOX® find that their symptoms are reduced even after the first injection visit, though not eliminated. The getting better process is slow, as it takes months for long-term muscle injuries to heal.

    The best results are achieved when patients continue to complement the BOTOX® with a nightguard, jaw stretching exercises,  a cautious diet, and ongoing efforts to pay attention to daytime jaw overuse behaviors. For most patients, there is a need for one or two additional injection sessions, spaced three months apart, so that the jaw muscles continue to get the rest they need to recover adequately. Within nine to twelve months, there is often a significant reduction in jaw muscle pain, tightness, and daily soreness.

  5. How Many Injections Will I Need?

    The full benefits of BOTOX® for TMJ treatment are typically not achieved from just one round of injections. Instead, you will likely require a series of injections spaced three months apart.

    BOTOX® is, in most cases, not the first treatment you’ll be offered to reduce your jaw pain, soreness, stiff muscles, and motion limitations. The truth is that other treatments usually get the job done. Most of my patients get better by a combination of treatments such as modifying their diet, jaw exercises, massage, physical therapy, chiropractic care, medications, nightguards, and by non-BOTOX® muscle injectionsAnd most importantly, trying to reduce or eliminate daytime jaw overuse behaviors such as nail-biting and teeth clenching.

  6. What Are The Side Effects Of BOTOX® For TMJ Treatment?

    Repeated injections of BOTOX® in masseter and temporalis muscles over a long period of time can cause some problems. If it is not administered properly, the result can be muscle weakness, and an acceleration of joint noises, making it difficult to eat certain foods. It could hollow out your temporalis muscles and flatten the contour of your face.

    Therefore, it is of critical importance that when you seek a healthcare professional to administer BOTOX® for TMJ treatment, you choose one who fully understands the anatomy and function of the muscles of mastication and the risk factors that prompted your muscles to become overused.

  7. Will I Need Long-Term, BOTOX® Injection Sessions?

    There is always a  small percentage of patients whose chronic jaw muscle pain (often years in the making) require ongoing BOTOX® injections, in a way similar to Migraine sufferers. Here’s why:Muscle pain occurs when muscle fibers are injured or overworked. Injured and overworked jaw muscles, often due to daytime clenching and nighttime grinding, a high level of lactic acid is produced. When the lactic acid builds up to a high level, a muscle’s nerve endings become excessively excited, which leads to persistent pain.

    The pain is now not only in the muscles but in the nerves themselves. This condition is called sensitization (think of it as a sunburn). Sensitization is much more challenging to turn off than simple muscle.

    Fortunately, BOTOX® can help nerve sensitization, but the results are harder to achieve and maintain. As a result, ongoing BOTOX® injections may be needed for some patients, with a frequency of three to four times a year without an absolute stop date. Careful attention is required for these patients to ensure their jaw muscles do not become excessively weakened.

BOTOX® For TMJ Treatment – The Bottom Line

If your problems have persisted for a long period of time and despite treatment by your dentist,  you’re still suffering, the next step is to find a board-certified orofacial pain specialist that has experience using BOTOX® for TMJ treatment. If you are located outside the New York City metropolitan area, go to the website of the American Academy of Orofacial Pain here. Look for a specialist with the designation: Diplomate.

For those of you who live in the NYC metropolitan area or on Long Island, you can call my office to schedule a consultation at 212-265-0110 (or email at

You do not have to suffer every day from the pain and discomfort of TMJ. Relief is available.


More helpful information about BOTOX® from Dr. Tanenbaum:

7 Things To Know If You’re Considering BOTOX® Injections For Your TMJ

BOTOX® for TMJ Pain


Reasons to Get BOTOX® from Your Dentist

As surprising as it is, you can get BOTOX® from a dentist! Advancements in the dental niche are always being made. The goal is to offer dental patients simple and effective treatments that can address their dental issues in a safe and efficient manner, and many dentists have undergone training and have used dental BOTOX® to treat their patients for years now. Dental BOTOX® can be used for cosmetic or medical reasons.

About Dental BOTOX®

BOTOX® treatments are an option when conventional dental treatments are not working to address any dental-related problem that you are currently experiencing. BOTOX® treatments provided by a dental professional are becoming more common as more is learned about the many benefits BOTOX® can offer dental patients. BOTOX® works by relaxing muscles in the face and, therefore, can be used to treat dental problems that will benefit from relaxed muscles.

It is indeed safe to get BOTOX® from a dentist. Any dentist who offers their patients BOTOX® treatments must first undergo extensive training. Since they have already undergone years of dental training in order to become a dental professional, they fully understand how all of the facial areas are connected. This is why so many patients are looking to their dentist to address any facial-related or jaw-related problems they are currently experiencing.

Common Reasons For BOTOX® Treatments For Dental Patients

The following is a list of three common reasons why dental patients are choosing to get BOTOX® from their dentist.


Dental patients who have been diagnosed with a temporomandibular joint disorder often experience discomfort and/or pain due to this common dental disorder. When BOTOX® is injected into the jaw muscles, it weakens the muscles in a way that stops all of the negative effects that come with a TMJ diagnosis, e.g., clicking or popping sounds, general jaw pain, swelling, and lockjaw.

Headaches & Migraines

Because dental BOTOX® relaxes muscles, it is often used to minimize and even eliminate any discomfort or pain for dental patients who are suffering from constant headaches or debilitating migraines. When BOTOX® injections are strategically placed into the shallow muscles of the head and neck, the muscles in these areas are no longer tense, allowing for less or even no more headaches.

Orofacial Pain

Dental BOTOX® can be used to block nerve signals, which helps to relax muscles and accordingly reduce muscle-related pain. This makes using BOTOX® a great idea for dental patients who are experiencing chronic orofacial pain.

Are you currently in need of BOTOX® treatments?

If you think that getting dental BOTOX® will help you, understand that it is a very safe dental procedure that is used by many professional dentists these days. While you are encouraged to perform your own research in order to understand more about how BOTOX® can help you, for personalized information you will need to make a consultation appointment for more information. Ready to find out whether or not dental BOTOX® is a solution for you?

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Medicine Treatment FAQs

Finding out one’s sleep medicine treatment options is one of the first steps to take after receiving a sleep order diagnosis. Sleep disorders not only prevent one from getting enough sleep, but they also interfere with sleeping patterns, reducing quality sleep. Ongoing sleep deprivation can lead to physical and mental health problems.

Sleep deprivation

Learning about sleep medicine treatments is essential because when one is deprived of sleep, they may experience one or more physical and/or mental problems. Sleep deprivation can lead to one or more of the following problems: memory problems, mood changes, difficulty concentrating, high blood pressure, a weaker immune system, weight gain, a lower sex drive, poor coordination and a higher risk of being diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease.

According to Healthline, a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. In fact, it’s just as important as eating healthy and exercising.


The list below includes frequently asked questions that people have regarding the treatments available for addressing common sleep disorders.

What are popular treatments for sleep disorders?

Commonly treatment options for addressing sleeping problems include using a CPAP machine, undergoing behavior modification therapy, taking certain types of prescribed medications and losing weight under the guidance of a professional. Surgery is the last option when other treatments have not proven to work.

How does CPAP treatment work?

CPAP is a sleep medicine treatment option that delivers a constant flow of air while someone is sleeping. The air is delivered through a tube attached to a mask that needs to be worn by the patient. The pressure of the airflow helps keep the airway open, allowing patients to breathe easier. The most common sleep disorder a CPAP machine treats is sleep apnea.

What are risk factors for getting a sleep disorder?

While anyone can be diagnosed with a sleep disorder, there are certain risk factors that one may have that can increase their chances of having a sleep disorder. These risks include but are not limited to being over the age of 40, being a woman, being overweight and being diagnosed with one or more medical problems, e.g., high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, etc. While some factors, like age, cannot be changed, other factors like losing weight can be addressed.

Got more questions?

The fact that sleep deprivation can lead to one experiencing physical and mental problems makes it essential for those diagnosed with a sleep disorder to find a treatment option that works for them.


Are TMJ and TMD the Same Thing?


The terms TMJ and TMD are similar but not the same. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull bones located right in front of the ears. There are certain issues that cause this joint to work incorrectly, and when this happens, it is referred to as TMD, which is short for TMJ disorder. Many people, however, incorrectly refer to disorders of the joint as TMJ.

Symptoms of TMD

Factors involved with disorders of TMJ include injury to the jaw or joint, chronic tension in the face and jaw, teeth grinding and arthritis. These can cause a variety of symptoms, and these range from mild to severe:

  • Soreness and tightness around the jaw
  • Clicking and popping with jaw movement
  • Trouble chewing due to crooked bite
  • Extreme pain around joint and facial muscles
  • Aching in and around the ear
  • Locking of the jaw in the open position

If TMD is caused by increased stress and tension, this may put extra strain on the surrounding muscles of the neck and upper back. This may lead to secondary symptoms such as neck pain, headaches or sore shoulder muscles.

Treatment for TMD

The treatment for TMJ disorders varies based on the cause and the severity of the symptoms. For mild symptoms, no medical treatment may be necessary. At-home remedies can include ice packs, relaxation techniques and avoiding foods that stress the jaw.

Mouthguards, bridges and crowns

For moderate and severe symptoms, the dentist or doctor typically begins with conservative treatment before more invasive procedures. With teeth-grinding or clenching, a splint or mouth guard is recommended. In some cases, the symptoms are due to an issue with the teeth, so treatment may include dental work such as bridges or crowns.

Pain medications, muscle relaxants and antidepressants

Medication may be recommended for pain relief and muscle relaxation. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories are often used first, but prescription pain meds may be recommended if the discomfort persists. Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed for the short term to relieve muscle tension. In rarer cases, anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants may be prescribed in low doses. These have been shown to improve relaxation, relieve pain, help improve sleep and decrease the occurrence of teeth grinding.

Physical therapy, acupuncture and surgery

Alternative therapies, such as physical therapy, massage, chiropractic, low laser therapy, ultrasound, acupuncture and biofeedback may help some who suffer from symptoms. If other methods do not relieve TMD symptoms, surgery or other procedures may be recommended. Surgical procedures include open-mouth surgery, arthroscopy and arthrocentesis. Injections, such as botulinum toxin type A or corticosteroid, may also alleviate pain.


People who suffer from TMJ disorders experience a wide variety of symptoms, and a number of them can reduce the quality of life. If someone suspects they have issues with the joint, they should seek help from a doctor or dentist because some of the symptoms mimic other conditions. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options for TMD to help reduce pain and increase the function of the jaw.



Does It Work?

Despite the press advocating BOTOX® for TMJ pain problems, my clinical experience using it over the past 15 years suggests that it represents another supportive treatment at best and may not live up to the hype over the long term.

To start the discussion let’s focus on who is even a candidate for BOTOX®, a chemical agent that can be used to partially reduce muscle contracture. Since most of the commonly seen TMJ problems are orthopedic in nature, patients typically experience muscle and joint pain, limited jaw motion, difficulty chewing, and at times joint clicking, popping and locking.

Those patients whose problem is mainly mechanical – whose jaws click, pop, and lock – are typically not good candidates for BOTOX® injections. BOTOX® for TMJ pain and for people whose jaws have become more prominent due to excessive teeth grinding are more likely to get relief.

If you look at the common muscle problems we encounter with TMJ, the vast majority of patients will get better by:

  • Education, behavior, and diet modification
  • Postural awareness
  • Home exercise
  • Massage
  • Short-term medication

More stubborn problems will get better by adding:

  • Oral appliances
  • A prescription for physical therapy
  • Trigger point injections and/or acupuncture

That leaves only a small percentage of patients who would benefit from using BOTOX® for TMJ pain. It can be very effective in alleviating persistent jaw muscle pain resulting from the accumulation of lactic acid and other irritating substances. What makes people grind their teeth? Teeth grinding for most people is the result of negative emotions (stress), daytime overuse behaviors that fatigue the jaw and/or restless sleep associated with frequent arousals, and at times tooth clenching and grinding. Even when Botox for TMJ pain is used in this select population of patients, success can only be achieved if what caused the problem in the first place is controlled or eliminated. It’s not an easy task!

People who opt for BOTOX® for TMJ pain typically need injections over a period of 9-12 months. If you are among the select few who are candidates, you have reasons to be optimistic. Patients for whom first-line therapies have failed report reduced suffering. Although still clench or grind their teeth they feel less pain as a result.

BOTOX® For TMJ Pain – The Take-Away

BOTOX®does have a place in the management of jaw muscle pain, but it is important to understand that it’s far from the remedy it is made out to be by those trying to sell it as a cure for TMJ problems.

Pain issues and sleep challenges do not have to be lifetime afflictions. You need someone who listens and possesses the knowledge and compassion to get your pain and sleep problems under control. I am that someone – and you’re in the right place.
Dr. Donald Tanenbaum, DDS MPH


Dr. Donald Tanenbaum is a specialist with offices in New York City and Long Island, NY. He is uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat facial pain associated with jaw problemsTMJreferred painnerve pain, and migraines. Find out more at


Can A Dentist Treat a TMJ Headache with Botox®?

Botox® is probably best known as a cosmetic treatment for wrinkles; however, it can also be used to treat the symptoms of TMJ disorders. Patients who experience tension headaches due to nighttime teeth clenching and grinding are most likely to experience relief from this treatment.

Botox® injections for TMJ relief

Temporomandibular joint disorders cause some people to clench and grind teeth during sleep. This activity puts a large amount of stress on the TMJ. This often causes tension headaches, sore facial muscles and stiff joints. An injection of BOTOX® into the facial muscles can reduce the jaw tension that often triggers grinding and clenching. This treatment works by preventing jaw muscles from being able to perform the unconscious movement of the jaw.

The injections only affect the muscles at the site of injection. Patients do not experience the effects in any other part of the body. The most common injection sites are the temporalis, frontalis and masseter, but other sites may receive injections if required to relieve symptoms.


Muscle tenderness, headaches, lockjaw, jaw discomfort, and shoulder and neck pain may begin to diminish shortly after the injection. Though the primary purpose of this treatment is not cosmetic and some patients may not experience any change in appearance, wrinkles at the injection sites may begin to fade 24-48 hours after the procedure and may continue to fade for as much as a week after.

The procedure

Botox® injections can be administered in a dentist’s office. The length of the procedure varies, depending on the number of injections that are given, but usually lasts from 10-30 minutes. Some patients experience brief, mild, pain that can be reduced by the use of numbing agents. Results usually last three to six months. Regular treatment is required to maintain results.


Most patients can return to normal activities immediately; however, care should be taken to avoid spreading the toxin to other parts of the body. Patients should avoid rubbing or massaging the area around the injection site or lying down for several hours after the procedure. It is also recommended to limit strenuous physical activity for 24 hours.

Side effects

The side effects of botulinum toxin treatment are infrequent and usually mild and short-lived. Patients sometimes experience pain, redness at the injection site, bruising and muscle weakness. The most common symptoms usually resolve within seven days:

  • Respiratory infection
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Temporary eyelid droop
  • Nausea


Overuse of Botox® injections around the mouth can make chewing and speaking more difficult or result in drooling for some people. Additionally, long-term use may result in the development of antibodies that can reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. These treatments are not recommended for people who are pregnant or lactating.


Botox® injections can help relieve headaches and other symptoms for some patients with TMJ disorders caused by clenching and grinding teeth. Additionally, the injections may reduce the appearance of wrinkles at the injection sites.

Sleep Apnea

A Sleep Medicine Professional Discusses Sleep Aids

A sleep medicine professional is someone who has decided to focus on preventing, diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. Those dealing with sleeping problems can visit this type of health care professional in order to get the guidance and direction they need. Sleep disorders can be mild or severe.

About sleep disorders

Visiting a sleep medicine professional gives someone who is having trouble sleeping the ability to not only get a proper diagnosis but also understand their treatment options. While sleep disorders can affect anyone, those who are women, are overweight, have been diagnosed with a medical condition and are over the age of 40 are more likely to have a sleep disorder. According to WebMD, sleep problems, including snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep deprivation, and restless legs syndrome, are common.

Sleep aids

The list below includes three popular sleep aid treatments for those who have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

CPAP machine

CPAP machines are designed to provide sleep disorder patients with a constant flow of air, allowing them to breathe easier during the night when sleeping. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines are most often used to treat sleep apnea patients, as this particular sleep disorder is one that tends to block one’s airway, causing them to stop breathing many times throughout the night. It is also used to treat patients who are diagnosed with snoring problems.

Oral appliance

An oral appliance is a type of sleep aid that fits inside of a patient’s mouth with the goal of preventing their airway from closing while sleeping. When the airway becomes blocked, it interferes with one’s ability to properly breathe during the night, causing sleeping problems. Examples of oral appliances available to improve one’s ability to breathe easier include custom-made mouth guards, tongue-retaining devices and mandibular repositioners.

Medical treatment

Sometimes a patient will need to undergo medical treatment in order to address their sleep disorder. The type of medication that one will need will depend on their particular disorder, as well as how minor or how severe it affects them. Examples of medications used as a sleep aid include sleeping pills, melatonin supplements and allergy medications. Medical treatments may also require one to undergo a surgical procedure to address any medical problems that can cause one to be diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

In need of sleep aids?

The three sleep aids listed above are commonly used, making trying one or more of them a great idea for those who are suffering from sleep problems. If none of the above aids work, additional treatment options are available. Visit a medical professional to learn more.


Is Botox® for TMJ Safe?

Thinking about undergoing Botox® treatment to address your TMJ problems? Making an appointment with a TMJ specialist is the first step. According to Healthline, Botox® may help treat the following TMJ disorder symptoms: jaw tension, headaches due to teeth grinding and lockjaw in cases of severe stress.

About TMJ

Wondering if you should try Botox® to address your TMJ symptoms? Many people who have been diagnosed with a TMJ disorder will use over-the-counter or prescribed medications to help them deal with the discomfort and pain associated with TMJ. Some will have their dentist make a custom-made mouthguard for them, as this helps prevents the grinding and clenching that can make TMJ symptoms worse. For those who do not get relief by using one or both of these options, Botox® is considered to be the next level of treatment.

About Botox®

Botox® is a drug that offers many benefits. One of these benefits includes temporarily paralyzing the muscles in and around the jaw joint area. When this drug is used in small doses, it allows TMJ sufferers to experience relief from the discomfort or pain they experience on a daily basis due to their disorder symptoms. Botox® is a temporary solution for those diagnosed with TMJ. Patients will need to make an appointment to make sure they are a good candidate to undergo this procedure.

How safe is using Botox® to treat TMJ?

Since Botox® is a drug, many people wonder how safe it is for them to undergo Botox® treatment. Since Botox® is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it is a safe treatment option. While the FDA has deemed Botox® to be safe when used to address certain situations, anyone who is interested in this option must understand that Botox® injections need to be performed by a trained professional. This makes finding a TMJ specialist a good idea, as they are highly qualified to administer Botox® to TMJ patients.

Choosing a trained professional means that patients can expect to be informed of everything they need to know about this treatment for TMJ. This includes understanding where the injections will take place, how many injections they will receive and how long they can undergo Botox® injections, as well as understanding what the potential side effects are, e.g., soreness, nausea, etc. It is also important for patients to carefully follow any aftercare instructions when it comes to successfully treating TMJ using Botox®.

In need of TMJ treatment?

Thinking that Botox® may be the right solution for addressing your TMJ-related problems? Making an appointment with a TMJ specialist is the next step. For those who still have questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at your earliest convenience.


Why You Should Seek Out Help for Your TMJ Disorder

If you are experiencing symptoms like jaw pain and stiffness, TMJ disorder might be the problem. This disorder can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. The condition generally worsens without treatment. A TMJ specialist is a trained and experienced professional who offers treatment for TMJ disorders. Continue reading to find out why going in for treatment is crucial.

TMJ disorder and the treatment options

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a complex joint that enables the jaw’s range of motion. The joint is one of the most used joints and is therefore prone to issues. Sometimes, the joint’s soft tissues may get inflamed. Aside from repeated usage, stress is another major cause of TMJ disorder. People tend to clench their jaw when feeling nervous or anxious, which only induces more stress on the joints.

The TMJ specialist has different treatment options for the disorder. First, they will have a consultation session and examine the patient’s jaw, then they will recommend the best solution to the issue. The first choice is generally conservative, and patients will continue to visit for progress assessment so the doctor can determine if further care is required. Treatment options include oral splints, medications, stress management, and lifestyle adjustments. Corrective jaw surgery or minimally invasive surgery is only recommended in severe cases.

Reasons to seek TMJ treatment

Treating TMJ disorder is important due to its impact on health and quality of life. Reasons to seek help for the disorder include the following.

Relieve discomfort: Jaw pain is not the only TMJ disorder symptom. It can also result in neck pain, jaw stiffness, chronic headaches, and upper back pain. Jaw pain inhibits normal jaw functions, so activities like eating can become uncomfortable. Getting treatment relieves pain and restores normal functionality.

Minimize risk of dental damage: Bruxism and TMJ disorder are usually related. Teeth grinding can cause the disorder and vice versa. Chronic bruxism can cause enamel deterioration and teeth damage. Treating TMJ disorder may resolve the grinding habit and prevent further damage to the teeth.

Protect ear health: Serious cases of TMJ disorder can cause tinnitus or constant ear ringing. The ringing can disturb hearing and sleeping. While scientists are continuing to research the connection between the two conditions, treating TMJ almost always resolves tinnitus as well.

Improve overall health: TMJ disorder has been associated with many systemic health disorders, including chronic fatigue, sleep apnea, rheumatoid arthritis, dizziness, fibromyalgia, and Meniere’s disease. Also, it is uncertain what the link between these conditions is. However, treating the disorder can be necessary for resolving those health conditions and restoring general wellbeing.

Seek help from the TMJ specialist

TMJ disorder symptoms can have devastating effects on your health. The TMJ specialist will develop a personalized treatment plan to treat the condition and alleviate the accompanying discomfort. If you are suffering from the condition, you need to seek help as soon as you can. This prevents complications and ensures that you can benefit from minimally invasive treatment options.


How TMJ Disorder Can Trigger Migraines

TMJ disorder is common in the United States and affects more than three million people annually. One of the more frequent and severe symptoms of TMJ disorder is migraines. Often, treating TMJ disorder is essential for stopping chronic migraines.

TMJ disorder and migraines: is there a connection between the two?

TMJ disorder can put a lot of stress on a person and lead to the onset of migraines. Migraines can hinder a person’s ability to function properly each day, so treating the underlying concern is often essential. The following is a review of how patients are able to find relief through TMJ treatment.

What is TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorder affects the joint that is responsible for the mouth opening and closing, known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint serves as a sliding hinge and may become stiff, sore, or even locked, which can create discomfort in the face and lead to symptoms such as locked jaw and migraines.

How are TMJ disorder and migraines related?

TMJ disorder is not considered a cause of migraines. However, it is often considered a trigger. This is largely due to the physical stress that TMJ disorder places upon the facial muscles. It can lead to a tension headache that can eventually progress into a full-blown migraine. Studies have suggested that many who treat their TMJ disorder see the frequency of their migraines significantly reduce or go away entirely.

How is TMJ disorder treated?

TMJ disorder treatments vary based on the severity and reason for the problem. Self-care and the use of a mouthguard to wear while sleeping may be all that is necessary in some minor instances. Therapies such as biofeedback and some medications may be appropriate as well. In the most severe cases, surgery may be an option.

What are the symptoms of TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorder may look different for everyone who has it. However, some symptoms are more frequently reported. These symptoms include:

  • Chronic jaw pain
  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Difficulty chewing
  • A clicking sound from the jaw
  • Locked jaw
  • Face and ear pain
  • Toothache

Many of these symptoms could be related to alternative oral health concerns, so it is important to visit a TMJ specialist for an accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan.

Additional tips for migraine prevention

For many patients, particularly those whose underlying cause of migraines is TMJ disorder, treating TMJ disorder is all that is necessary to relieve the migraines. However, some patients may still experience migraines if there are other causes. To further reduce the risk of migraines, consider keeping a journal of foods and activities to determine potential triggers that may increase the risk of migraines.

Speak with a member of our team about TMJ disorder treatment

Our TMJ specialist can help you put together a treatment plan that not only addresses your migraines but also relieves TMJ disorder, which is often the primary reason for migraines. To learn more about TMJ disorder treatment, contact our team today to schedule a visit.

Jaw Problems Orofacial Pain Referred Pain Teeth Grinding TMJ

How To Get Relief From TMJ Pain When Nothing Is Working

When exercises, medication, nightguards, relaxation techniques, and a soft diet don’t provide relief from TMJ pain, injections for TMJ may be the next step.

What Causes TMJ/TMD Problems?

Note: TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint, which is your jaw joint, and TMD stands for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, which refers to jaw problems. Because most people use the catchall term “TMJ” to describe all TMDs, I use the term TMJ in this article.

Anything that causes your jaws to be overworked and fatigued, such as continually clenching your teeth, biting your nails during the day, or clenching and grinding at night, puts you at high risk for TMJ. However, your TMJ problem could stem from a history of trauma or a medical or dental procedure that sprained your jaw joints or strained the muscles and tendons. In some cases, systemic disease or a disorder can predispose you to experience inflammation, pain and instability in your jaw joints, ligaments, and/or tendons.

Regardless of the cause of your TMJ, if your jaw’s in trouble, you want treatment that will provide relief.

First-Line Therapies For Relief From TMJ Pain

I’ve been a TMJ doctor and orofacial pain specialist for nearly four decades. During that time, I’ve treated thousands of patients and have at my disposal many first-line therapies to help my patients feel better and get better (once an accurate diagnosis has been made). They include:

  • Nightguards or specifically designed oral appliances that address teeth clenching, grinding, and joint instability during sleep
  • At-home exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory and/or muscle relaxant medications
  • Stress-reducing activities such as meditation or yoga
  • Adherence to a soft diet
  • Reducing or eliminating the daytime behaviors that overwork the jaws
  • Physical therapy

While most of my patients respond well to the first-line therapies above, you may be someone for whom the above strategies simply don’t work. What’s next for you?

massage for TMJ, temporalis and masseter

Injections For TMJ

I’m sure you’ve read about people having BOTOX® injections for TMJ problems, but BOTOX® is not the only injectable that can help. In fact, it is not the right choice for many patients. The good news is there are injections for TMJ that are less risky and can be very helpful to provide relief from TMJ pain. They include jaw muscle injections, injections into the tendons or ligaments, and injections into the temporomandibular joint itself.

Jaw Muscle Injections For TMJ

  • Trigger point injections, sometimes called dry needling, can help reduce the muscle spasms, tension, associated pain and limited jaw motion experienced by many TMJ sufferers. They’re also designed to reduce the likelihood of “referred” pain when irritated jaw muscles refer pain to other locations such as your teeth, ears and sinuses. With trigger point injections, the mechanical prodding of the muscle with a needle creates the benefit. Some providers inject a bit of Lidocaine, a local anesthetic, to make the procedure more comfortable. Trigger point injections are typically repeated several times before the spasms and muscle tension release. When combined with exercises and other home care techniques, trigger point injections for TMJ can be very effective for people whose problems have not responded to first-line treatments.

Tendon and Ligament Injections For TMJ

Sometimes first-line therapies fail because pain is due to stubborn and persistent inflammation in a jaw tendon or ligament. In this case, prolotherapy and steroid injections are often effective:

  • Prolotherapy, also known as proliferative therapy, involves a combination of dextrose and an anesthetic. Dextrose is a natural irritant that can kick-start your body’s natural healing response and the anesthetic helps deaden pain. When injected directly into damaged tendons and/or ligaments prolotherapy can strengthen and repair them. When combined with exercises and home care strategies, prolotherapy injections for TMJ can provide a great deal of relief from TMJ pain and also promote healing. The injections typically need to be repeated several times over a few months for full effectiveness.
  • Steroid injections into irritated tendons and ligaments can also provide life-changing relief from TMJ pain and usually are administered in a series. If overused, however, steroids carry some serious risks, so your steroid injections should be administered only under the guidance of an experienced clinician.

Injections Into The Jaw Joint

Some TMJ problems stem from inflammation or structural compromises in the jaw joint itself. They can’t move their jaw without severe pain and experience mechanical symptoms as well, such as clicking, popping, or locking and gravelly sounds emanating from the joint.   Injections directly into the temporomandibular joint can often help. There are two types of joint injections for TMJ: steroids and hyaluronic acid.

  • Steroid injections are frequently used to ease pain in the knees, hips, shoulders, etc. So, it’s no surprise that steroids can also provide relief from pain in the TM joint. Depending upon the severity of your underlying joint problem, one shot may be all you need for life-changing pain relief. If your pain doesn’t diminish with just one injection, you may need a series. Proceed with caution because, as I mentioned above, steroid injections carry risks when overused.
  • Hyaluronic acid injections into the jaw joint are another strategy. Your jaw joint contains a substance called synovial fluid, which provides nourishment and shock absorption to keep them healthy. When there’s a change in the volume or quality of synovial fluid due to jaw overuse or trauma, the result can be pain and joint noises. When hyaluronic acid, a lubricating substance, is injected into the joint, the relief from TMJ pain and noises can be profound. Research suggests that hyaluronic acid also provides an anti-inflammatory effect. The only drawback to hyaluronic acid injections for TMJ is that the positive effects can be short-lived.

New Injections For TMJ Are On The Horizon!

Many research efforts show that over 30 million Americans have TMJ/TMD problems. Some problems are minor, but others can lead to life-compromising pain and jaw function limitations. There is a great need for earlier diagnoses and pain and discomfort management for people who suffer. There’s also a need for therapies that are specifically designed for treating stubborn and persistent TMJ problems.

Fortunately, emerging therapies such as stem cell and blood component injections may be able to regenerate new tissue in TM joints, ligaments and tendons. The research is very promising, and I suspect in the near future, these new and innovative types of injections will become commonplace for treating TMJ/TMD problems and provide the kind of healing that has not been achievable with other established injection therapies.

The Last Word

If you’re suffering from jaw problems, I know what you’re going through. Orofacial pain specialists like me have the knowledge to accurately diagnose your problem and the skills to help you find relief from TMJ pain, whether by first-line therapies or injections for TMJ. To find an orofacial pain specialist in your area, go to the American Academy Of Orofacial Pain and search for a physician with diplomate credentials.

Feel Better!


Further Reading:

All About BOTOX® For TMJ

What Is Referred Pain?

The Connection Between Pain & Sleep

Sleep Apnea

The Role of a Sleep Medicine Trained Dentist with Treating Sleep Apnea

The growing number of sleep apnea cases needs the collaboration of health care professionals. Several treatment options are now available for people suffering from this sleep disorder. Your specially trained dental care professional can help you along the way. If you want to find out what role a sleep medicine dentist has in treating sleep apnea, here are the details.

The role of a sleep medicine-trained dentist

Dentists and doctors work together to address sleep apnea. A dentist well-trained in sleep medicine is crucial in diagnosing and treating patients with breathing disorders during sleep. A thorough dental check allows the dentist to ask about the patient’s complete medical history. The dentist could then pinpoint the symptoms. This could then result in a referral to the right doctor.

The patient will have a sleep test after a full physical exam and diagnosis. The dentist will help check if the most effective solution would be an oral appliance. A sleep medicine dentist can give the patient the right oral appliance. The device will be custom-fit. The dentist will update the doctor on the patient’s progress. This will ensure the most optimal treatment for the patient.

What dental sleep medicine offers

This focus of dental sleep medicine is the treatment of sleep apnea and loud snoring. Dentists with sleep medicine training work with clinicians and doctors to find the right treatment plan. A sleep medicine dentist helps in the management of the patient’s OSA(obstructive sleep apnea) symptoms and snoring. Using OAT (oral appliance therapy) is an effective way to correct the condition.

A dentist can offer a tongue-retaining mouthpiece if the patient has minimal jaw flexibility. This oral appliance keeps the tongue from dropping into the air passage while the person sleeps. It wraps around the tongue itself. That way, the appliance holds the tongue in place with a delicate suction.

Sleep medicine dentists can also recommend a MAD (mandibular advancement device). This oral appliance looks like an athletic mouthguard. It can fit over the lower and upper teeth. The two trays stay in place with the help of a hinge. A MAD holds the tongue in a forward position while sleeping at night. It also holds the lower jaw in place. The dentist can adjust the MAD to make it more effective and comfortable.

Using an oral appliance in sleep apnea treatment

The sleep doctor will suggest the use of a dental appliance. The recommendation will be based on the doctor’s treatment plan for OSA. The dentist with sleep medicine training will provide the oral appliance. Follow-ups will enable the dentist to adjust the oral appliance. The sleep medicine will then update the sleep doctor about the patient’s progress.

Sleep apnea is treatable with the collaboration of a sleep medicine dentist and a sleep doctor

Treating sleep apnea needs full attention from your sleep doctor and your sleep medicine dentist. This collaboration will give way to the proper fabrication and adjustments of the right oral appliance. Regular dental checks with your sleep medicine dentist can ensure optimal dental care. This will make sure the patient has a comfortable and effective sleep apnea treatment.

Sleep Apnea

A Sleep Medicine Dentist Explains How Weight Loss Can Help With Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder among overweight or obese people. A person with this condition often wakes up with a terrible headache and daytime tiredness. This results from pauses in breathing while sleeping and inadequate sleep. If you want to know how losing weight can help with your sleep apnea, here are explanations from a sleep medicine dentist.

What sleep apnea is

This is a condition in which the person stops breathing while asleep. This pause can last for seconds or minutes. It can affect a person’s health in a negative way. Inadequate sleep results from waking up gasping for air. This can happen several times during the night.

The person then suffers from daytime sleepiness and exhaustion. Morning headaches are also common in people with this condition because of the lack of brain oxygenation. It can also result from frequent sleep interruptions. These terrible head pains are not part of a healthy lifestyle.

Its connection to excess weight

Research shows that there is a connection between this sleep disorder and obesity. People with excess weight tend to suffer from this condition more. A thorough physical examination can determine if the overweight person is at risk or already has sleep apnea. Measurement of the neck circumference is one way to check. A neck circumference of at least 16 inches in women and 17 inches in men will increase the risk for this condition.

Its connection to weight loss

Studies show that it is possible to correct sleep apnea with weight loss in some patients. A person’s anatomy often affects this part of the treatment. Someone with prominent tonsils, a receded chin, or a deviated septum will still cause this condition to persist despite weight loss. Even so, losing weight will give anyone many health benefits. This may include the improvement of some sleep apnea symptoms.

Research proves that this sleep disorder can slow down a person’s metabolism. Inadequate sleep and improper oxygenation affect the balance of hormones in the body. This then results in a slow metabolic rate. Controlling sleep apnea can help ensure weight loss. A sleep medicine dentist can help make this happen.

How losing weight can help correct sleep apnea

A healthy weight can help improve the symptoms of this sleep disorder. Excess weight tends to form fatty layers in the tongue and neck. This obstructs the person’s breathing, especially while sleeping. Weight loss cuts down the fatty deposits in these areas. This improves the person’s breathing by increasing airway traction and lung volume. These events prevent airway collapse during sleep.

Losing a significant amount of weight can reduce irritability and daytime sleepiness. It can lower insulin resistance and blood pressure. Diet and lifestyle changes through clean living can help the person lose weight and treat sleep apnea. Some people need additional help through medication or even surgery. A dialogue between the patient and the sleep medicine dentist is ideal. It can help determine which weight loss remedy can help the patient most.

Weight loss can help improve your sleep apnea symptoms

Excess weight can cause obstructions in your upper air passages. It is a common cause of breathing pauses while you sleep. This results in many health disorders. Losing weight can help correct sleep apnea symptoms. An appointment with your sleep medicine dentist can answer more of your questions about this particular disorder.

Bruxism Jaw Problems Orofacial Pain

3 Tips To Reduce Jaw Problems From Aligners

Over the last 10-15 years, the use of clear aligners has found a place, favored by many patients, amidst other traditional orthodontic techniques. When directed by an orthodontist or a trained dentist, tooth movement accomplished by the use of aligners can lead to better dental hygiene and periodontal health, create more stable bite relationships, and boost self-confidence as a result of improved smile esthetics. All of these are positive outcomes.

As a TMJ specialist, however, I see many patients who are in the midst of aligner therapy to straighten their teeth experiencing a variety of jaw symptoms. Some are receiving their care from a trained orthodontist or dentist, and some have opted for self-directed care using mail-order aligners. Either way, their complaints are typically the same: after wearing their aligners for several weeks or months, they have difficulty opening their mouths, their jaw joints are clicking and popping, and most often, they have jaw pain. If this sounds like you, I’d like to offer you some tips on how to reduce jaw problems from aligners.

But first, it’s essential to understand that aligner therapy is a form of orthodontic treatment, the same as old-fashioned metal braces. In fact, anything designed to move teeth is a form of orthodontic treatment. Over the past few years, I’ve identified some reasons why some people experience jaw problems from aligners, whether they’re under professional care or are wearing mail-order aligners. It all has to do with the posture and position of your jaw while your aligners are in place…

Jaw Problems – During The Day

When you wear your aligners during the majority of the daytime hours, there’s a pretty good chance that the aligners are in contact with each other. This may seem ok, but in reality, once the aligners are in contact the jaw is no longer at rest. In fact, the normal rest position of your jaw is hanging in a loose way with the lips relaxed and teeth apart. So, when your aligners are in contact, your jaw is not at rest but is in a braced and tense muscle posture.

As a result of the top and bottom aligners being in contact for hours on end, your jaw muscles can fatigue and the jaw joints are put in a braced position. As a result of being overworked, injury can occur, in a fashion common to all joints in your body. Injury leads to symptoms of soreness and pain in the muscles and the onset of joint clicking and popping. At times jaw motion can become restricted as a result of the joint and muscle injuries. This is often called lockjaw.

Unfortunately, there are times when a new aligner tray doesn’t seat fully on the teeth when first used. At these times, patients are often provided what are called ‘chewies’ and instructed to bite on them to help engage the trays fully onto the teeth, so that the planned tooth movement can occur. Though this may be an important step, it can’t possibly be good for the jaw joints and muscles!!

Jaw Problems – While You’re Asleep

Since aligners are always used during the sleeping hours, some patients notice that they are clenching their teeth (often for the first time in their lives). Others who recognized that they were always night clenchers without morning symptoms prior to the aligners being used, now experience jaw soreness and pain as the result of the aligners and wonder why. One reason may be that the top of the aligners are not commonly adjusted to make sure that when they do come together, the right and left sides hit evenly. For some patients, this imbalance is all that is needed to start an injury process. This imbalance can be overlooked even if you’re under the professional supervision of an orthodontist or dentist. So, if you’ve opted for mail-order aligners, this concern will definitely be overlooked. The bottom line, however, is that contact of the trays in any way for a sustained period of time increases the risk for jaw muscle and joint injuries to occur.

So, if you’re in the midst of treatment or are considering it, here are some tips I’ve put together that can reduce the risk of a jaw problem developing

3 Tips To Help Reduce Jaw Problems From Aligners

During the day, try to keep your upper and lower aligners separated. Your lower jaw should hang like a hammock in the breeze. If you find this difficult, try some breathing exercises to help you relax. My patients get great results from Buteyko breathing and techniques like those found online on Headspace, Calm, and Buddhify (links below).

If you’re under the care of an orthodontist or dentist and suspect that you have been clenching while you’re asleep, make an appointment to have your aligners adjusted. If you are indeed clenching, at least you’ll be clenching evenly on the right and the left sides. For those of you who’ve chosen self-directed mail-order aligner therapy, this is one of the risks.

If you suspect jaw problems from aligners are developing as a result of what is happening during your sleeping hours, speak to whoever is guiding your care and consider giving your jaw a rest, and don’t wear them for a week or so.  Or, wear only one aligner at a time at night for a short period of time as long as contact against the teeth on the other arch is even.


Clear aligners are here to stay and clearly, patients will benefit on many levels from pursuing this innovative form of tooth movement. However,  if you’re having jaw problems since starting with aligners, and are under the care of an orthodontist or dentist, make an appointment right to address your concerns, If you’ve opted to “fly on your own” with mail-order aligners and have noticed jaw pain, that your jaw is clicking or popping, or if you’re having trouble opening your mouth all the way, I strongly advise you to discontinue treatment and seek professional advice.

Helpful Links:

Sleep Apnea

Benefits of Oral Appliance Sleep Medicine Treatment to Address Sleep Apnea

People with sleep apnea understand how this condition can disrupt lives and affect health. If you are suffering from the signs and symptoms of this illness, you should get help right away. A sleep medicine dentist can help. The dentist may prescribe an oral appliance, which can effectively open your airway and help you to breathe well once again. This treatment might make more sense for you than other interventions.

Understanding sleep apnea: the effects and the signs

When this illness is present, the person suffering from it will stop and start breathing throughout the night during sleep. This can occur because the brain fails to send signals to the respiratory system to breathe properly. Or, it can happen when there is an obstruction in the airway, preventing enough oxygen from getting into the body. If this disease is not addressed, it can cause cardiovascular problems and can even be fatal.

Oral appliance options

Many people think that wearing a CPAP machine or getting surgery are the only ways to combat sleep apnea. There are other choices, and a sleep medicine dentist can help patients choose what makes the most sense. The two most common are tongue depressors and mouthguards. A tongue depressor holds the tongue in place, keeping it from rolling to the back of the mouth and blocking the airway. A mouthguard will custom-fit the wearer and push the jaw down and forward. This opens the airway more and helps to prevent the sudden stopping of breathing at night.

Less equipment to worry about

While CPAP machines can work well to promote effective breathing, they are not always the right option. Some people struggle with them because of the amount of equipment they come with. With oral appliances to treat sleep apnea, patients do not have to deal with extra parts. These include hoses, cords, face masks, and other apparatuses the devices have. This can be especially beneficial when traveling or when going camping.

Adjustments when necessary

The dentist will not have difficulties adjusting the mouthguard or tongue depressor. There may be times when the appliances stop fitting well or are no longer working properly. All the patient has to do is make an appointment with the dentist and come in for another fitting. It may only take a few minor tweaks to the appliance to help it fit well once more. It is also not as difficult to replace a depressor or mouthguard if they break.


In most cases, an oral appliance will not be as much of a financial commitment as a CPAP machine. This is also the case when comparing a mouthguard or a tongue depressor to having surgery. If finances are a concern, the patient should speak with the dentist about using mouth appliances to treat sleep apnea. Most insurance plans should cover using this treatment.

An effective difference

If you have concerns about using a CPAP machine or undergoing surgery, there are alternatives. Talk to your sleep medicine dentist about whether you are a good candidate for oral appliances. Wearing these at night could help you breathe well while you sleep. There are clear benefits to using this approach to fight sleep apnea.


Options for TMJ Disorder Treatment

You may not think much about TMJ disorder unless a dentist diagnoses you with it. This is a serious condition that can cause much pain and discomfort. Untreated, this disorder can make it difficult to chew and even speak. Instead of suffering and being in agony, you can speak to your dentist. Fortunately, relief is available with a few different treatments. Your dentist can look at various options.

A look at TMJ

On both sides of the jaws is a joint called the temporomandibular joint. This sliding hinge-like joint connects the jawbone to the skull. It is critical for any activities that require opening and closing the mouth. Most of the time, people do not even think about using this joint. However, injury, wear and tear, or bad habits can put a strain on the joint, irritating it.

Disorder of this joint can bring excruciating pain to the individual. The feelings can radiate up to the ears and throughout the face. The jaw may even be tender to the touch. This disorder can limit a person’s range of motion in the jaw. It may even cause headaches and interfere with a person’s quality of life.

Diagnosing the disorder

A person can look for the signs and symptoms of TMJ, but a dentist will diagnose it. The dentist will examine the patient and confirm that there are concerns with the joint. First, there will be a series of X-rays to see if there are visible signs of injuries. The dentist will look at the jaw and check the range of motion. It may even help to listen as the patient opens and closes the mouth, as the jaw could make popping or clicking sounds. The dentist will also press on both sides of the jaw and ask the patient how uncomfortable it is.


Controlling the effects of TMJ is a good first step that the dentist will take. The dentist can prescribe a variety of medications, including pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Taking muscle relaxants can also help the person feel more comfortable and have an improved range of motion in the jaw. Some dentists may even give the patient an antidepressant, which is sometimes shown to relieve pain and help stop teeth grinding.

Physical therapy

Another approach is to walk the patient through mobility exercises to strengthen the jaw. The dentist can help the patient stretch the jaw muscles and improve flexibility with the joint. The patient should always follow the dentist’s instructions when it comes to these exercises. The dentist may also advise the patient to apply heat and cold packs to the jaw to reduce pain and any swelling.

Surgical options

In more advanced TMJ cases, surgery may be necessary and effective. One approach is a process called arthrocentesis. The dentist will drain the joint of fluid and other materials using small needles. Arthroscopy is another option and is less invasive than open-jaw surgery. However, open-jaw surgery may be the right treatment when other measures have not been successful.

You can find relief

Living with TMJ can be difficult. You should not have to suffer the effects of this disorder. Your dentist can properly diagnose you and provide the right treatment. If you have jaw pain, make a dental appointment today and get the help you need.