Effective TMJ Therapy and Treatment for Sleep Apnea

Young woman wincing and holding jaw in painTemporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder can have a major impact on your quality of life. Symptoms include mild to severe discomfort in the jaw and neck, headaches, and facial pain. In some cases, the disorder can even make eating and talking uncomfortable. Fortunately, Dr. Timothy Sluser offers effective TMJ therapy at our Pittsburgh dental practice. Treatment for the disorder, which can involve medication, mouth guards, and orthodontics, can alleviate your discomfort and greatly enhance your quality of life.  If you suffer from symptoms of TMJ disorder, schedule your appointment today and found out how Dr. Sluser and our staff at Four Seasons Dental can help. 

What is TMJ Disorder?

The TMJs are the joints connecting the jaw to the skull. They allow your mouth to open, close, and move from side to side. TMJ disorder refers to any problems with the joint itself, or with the surrounding muscles and ligaments. TMJ disorder can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Erosion or dislocation of the cushioning disc in the joint
  • An improperly balanced bite
  • Injury to the head or jaw
  • Arthritis or other medical conditions
  • Grinding the teeth
  • Stress and chronic jaw clenching

Treatment for TMJ Disorder

At Four Seasons Dental, we offer occlusal mouth guards, one of the most effective treatment options for TMJ disorder. Patients are instructed to wear their customized mouth guards, or splints, over their teeth for a pre-determined period of time that is based on their symptoms and the severity of their condition. Some patients may need to wear their splints 24 hours a day, while others may only need to wear them at night. Stabilization splints can prevent patients from clenching or grinding their teeth, while repositioning splints can actually move the jaw forward, relaxing ligaments and jaw muscles and improving a patient’s bite.

Dr. Sluser may also recommend that patients undergo orthodontic treatment. Traditional braces or Invisalign® can properly align teeth to achieve a balanced bite and relieve strain on the TMJs.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment

Since some treatment options for sleep apnea are similar to those for TMJ disorder, Dr. Sluser also treats mild to moderate cases of this sleep disorder. Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing during sleep, typically because the tongue and throat muscles fall against the back of the throat, blocking the airway. The repeated interruptions throughout the night prevent patients from achieving the deepest and most restful stages of sleep. The most common symptom is snoring.

To determine whether you are suffering from sleep apnea, Dr. Sluser can refer you to a specialist who can conduct a sleep study. If the specialist determines that you have mild to moderate sleep apnea, Dr. Sluser may prescribe a mouthpiece to be worn at night. This device can push the jaw slightly forward, keeping the airways open so you can achieve restful sleep.

Schedule Your Appointment

If you suffer from symptoms of TMJ disorder or sleep apnea, call Four Seasons Dental today. Dr. Sluser is ready to answer your questions, help you with any necessary referrals, and provide you with conservative, effective treatment options.