tmj and sleep apnea

A friend of mine told me I should talk to a TMJ dentist because I’ve been struggling with sleep apnea. I’m not sure how reliable the source is, but thinking back, I really think my jaw problems and sleep apnea did start around the same time.

Back then, I was told to get a nightguard. I got one and I wore it for a while, but I don’t remember there being any difference and I found it cumbersome to sleep with, so I stopped using it and don’t remember what I did with it. I never got diagnosed with sleep apnea officially—my ex said I had it and that I snored. I figured if the fix for that was a full-on mask, there was no point in doing the sleep study since I couldn’t even tolerate the night guard. But, now I’m wondering if I should make my way back into the TMJ dentist again, just to see if I can have a new guard made that will address both. How viable is this?

Thank you,

Oscar

Dear Oscar,

You’re asking some great questions and are sort of on the right track. Let’s break things down a bit.

Sleep Apnea Involves Breaks of Breathing While You Sleep

There are three main forms of sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: With obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles of the throat relax and block airways. It’s more common with people who carry extra weight, have allergies, take certain medications, and those who drink alcohol, among other things.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: With central sleep apnea, the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles which control breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea: When someone has both obstructive and central sleep apnea, it’s referred to as complex sleep apnea.

All Forms of Sleep Apnea Must Be Treated

When you wake up repeatedly through the night, your body has trouble making it through the various sleep cycles, so you never get a full night of sleep, no matter how many hours you spend in bed. That can lead to things like being grouchy, groggy, tired, and listless. In severe cases, sleep deprivation produces symptoms that are worse than being drunk, which makes it unsafe to drive and engage in a number of activities.

TMJ Dentists Help with Jaw Disorders

Most people refer to the concept of jaw issues as “TMJ,” but the acronym is short for temporomandibular joint, which is your jaw joint. When something’s wrong with it, it’s referred to as a temporomandibular joint disorder or temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

TMD Has Many Known Causes

In most cases, it’s the muscles which support the joint that become problematic. For example, a traumatic injury, like from a car accident, can cause TMD. Grinding, clenching, stress, and arthritis can all result in TMD too.

All Forms of TMD Must Be Treated

People who don’t treat TMD wind up with pain and tenderness, popping and clicking sounds as they open and close their mouths, difficulty opening, trouble chewing, and so forth. When grinding and clenching are involved, teeth issues also set in. Teeth may wear down or become loose. Dental work may wear out or break. The symptoms become worse over time if nothing is done.

If Malalignment is Contributing to Your Sleep Apnea, a TMJ Dentist Can Help

Research shows a huge correlation between sleep apnea and TMD. People who have one usually have the other. That’s not surprising, because if your jaw is not aligned properly, it will cause undue stress to your temporomandibular joint and the muscles which support it, plus cause your tongue to lay in an unnatural way. A doctor who performs a physical exam and takes x-rays may be able to give you a definitive answer, but ultimately, you need treatment for both. Go visit the TMJ dentist for treatment and see if that helps your sleep apnea. If not, then you’ll still want to follow through with your sleep apnea treatment.

This blog is sponsored by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane DeLaune.

can I get a beautiful smile after 3o years of Dentures?

I’ve had dentures for about thirty years. Back then, I don’t think dental implants were available. If they were, my dentist should have told me about them. I have a friend who has them and her smile looks so much better than mine. I’d love to get a beautiful smile now if that is possible.

dentures and dental implants

I’m going to give you the great news first and then tell you how to make it come to pass. You can absolutely get a beautiful smile again. I’m going to tell you something which may sadden you, but I want you to understand it for the smile you’re going to get with dental implants.

You could have had a beautiful smile with dentures as well. The beauty of the smile doesn’t depend on whether you have crowns for dental implants or dentures. What makes the biggest difference is the artistic skill of the dentist.

Implants After Dentures

When your teeth are removed, your body recognizes that and begins to resorb the minerals in your jawbone in order to be as efficient as possible with your body’s resources.

This has the unfortunate effect of slowly shrinking your jawbone. This is known as facial collapse. Eventually, there won’t be enough jawbone left for you to retain your dentures at all, leaving you a denture cripple.

This creates a problem for dental implants too. As you can see from the image above, when an implant is placed, it requires the bone in your jawbone to integrate with it in order to retain the implant securely.

After 30 years, you will probably require a bone grafting procedure in order to have enough bone to secure them. This is an outpatient procedure. Then, when you’ve had time to heal, it will be time to get your implants then.

Getting a Beautiful Smile

As I mentioned above, getting a beautiful smile requires a skilled, artistic dentist. My suggestion is for you to look on the mynewsmile.com website. This is run by an accredited cosmetic dentist. He screens each dentist who wants to be listed on their site for both technical knowledge and training, as well as an artistic eye and hand. Any one of them can give you a gorgeous smile.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Crown hurts

I don’t know what’s going on. My crown hurts whenever I bite. It feels like the crown is bigger than the teeth next to it. I’m thinking bigger like taller. Could this be why it’s hurting. My dentist said it’s just a matter of me getting used to it but it has been about two months and it still hurts. Will I get used to it or is something else going on?

Kevin

Dear Kevin,

A woman holding her jaw from TMJ pain

When a crown is done properly, you shouldn’t even notice it is there. Your dentist saying, “You’ll get used to it.” is generally dental speak for “I’m not sure how to fix this.”

Normally, a basic step would be for a dentist to check that the crown isn’t seated to high. To do that, they’d have you bite on registration paper. This leaves marks where the crown hits prematurely. They will grind down those places.

I’m going on the assumption your dentist has already done this. If he hasn’t, you should definitely get a new dentist. If he has done this, there is something more challenging wrong and it’s out of his depth so he’s just saying you’ll “get used to it”.

This Can Lead to TMJ Disorder

If you don’t get this resolved, there is a possibility you will develop TMJ disorder.

I don’t think I’m confident your current dentist can fix this. Because of that, I’d like you to see a dentist who has experience with TMJ. They can properly place your crown so that you don’t have to worry about developing TMJ.

Making the Most of a Bad Situation

I’m a big believer in finding the good in a tough situation. If it turns out your crown was made improperly for your bite in a way which can be fixed, two good things can result.

First, you’ll be able to get a refund from your first dentist which will help you pay to get it done right. Second, this is a chance to improve your smile.

The color your crown is made is permanent. If you’re going to have it redone, I’d suggest getting your teeth whitened, so your second crown can be made to match a much lighter color to match your new, more youthful looking smile.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Protecting Lumineers

I’m considering getting a smile makeover with Lumineers. Can you tell me how hard they are to take care of?

Marilyn

Dear Marilyn,

Advertisement with Lumineers including a woman smiling and a single veneer being held by a tool

It’s great that you’re getting a smile makeover. However, I want to caution you against choosing the brand. Instead, you should carefully choose the dentist and let them choose the brand.

While some dentists place Lumineers. Others prefer different brands. What you want is an expert cosmetic dentist who knows the pros and cons of each brand and can create a stunning smile for you.

Caring For Your Lumineers

Whatever brand of porcelain veneers you get, there are things that are important for you to know to keep them in great shape.

  • Make sure your hygienist understands cosmetic dentistry: Not all hygienists are familiar with cosmetic work. It is important during your checkup and cleanings that your hygienist doesn’t use anything like a Prophy Jet or acidulated fluoride. Either one of these will damage the glazing and cause your veneers to pick up stains.
  • Keep up with your home care: Being stain-resistant doesn’t mean you can get away with not taking care of your teeth. You’ll have to brush regularly as well as floss. Some dentists recommend you use Supersmile toothpaste, which is specifically designed for cosmetic work.
  • Protect your teeth from grinding: If you grind your teeth, you’ll want to make sure you get a night guard. Consistent grinding can cause your veneers (and natural teeth) to chip. A night guard protects them.

Finding that Expert Cosmetic Dentist

Cosmetic dentistry isn’t a recognized specialty. Because of that, any dentist can call themselves a cosmetic dentist regardless of their skill level. There are countless cosmetic dentistry horror stories by patients who’ve thought they were getting a gorgeous smile with a qualified cosmetic dentist only to leave heartbroken and disappointed with the results.

Because of that, Dr. Hall, who runs the mynewsmile.com website, decided to make a recommended list of skilled cosmetic dentists. He screens them for both technical training as well as their artistry. Anyone he recommends can give you a gorgeous smile you’ll be thrilled to share with the world.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.