There are a number of different reasons you may need adult orthodontic treatment. Adult orthodontics is useful in obtaining proper alignment of the abutments for the construction of bridges and partial dentures and to move teeth into alignment. Retainers are also important and may be used for long periods. Permanent retention is obtained through bridgework and replacement of missing teeth.
The parts of the jaw and mouth work together, which is why a problem in one area can cause symptoms elsewhere. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is used to refer to a group of problems involving the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and nearby muscles. Teeth or bite problems associated with TMD include:
• Bruxism – grinding your teeth side to side
• Clenching – biting down on your teeth
• Malocclusion – when the teeth or bite is out of alignment
• Jaw pain/clicking – pain in the jaw joint or TMJ
If you have any of the following conditions you may be grinding your teeth at night – a condition known as bruxism:
• If your jaw feels stiff or if you have difficulty opening your mouth wide
• If your jaw muscles feel tired in the morning
• If you experience head, neck and jaw joint pain
• If your teeth are sensitive to cold drinks
People with nighttime grinding habits may wear away their tooth enamel much faster than those people without this habit. Eventually your teeth get worn down and can be destroyed.
Jaw Pain/Clicking – TMJ
Sometimes problems may occur in the jaw joints, temporomandibular joints (TMJ) and surrounding muscles, causing joint pain, limited opening, muscle aches and joint noises or clicking. Some of the most common causes of TMD are chronic muscle tension associated with clenching or gnashing of teeth, and habits such as gum chewing or stressed jaw posture at work or during sleep. Neck and shoulder muscle tension and headaches or tooth pain may also be a contributor by the referring pain and tightness to the jaws and face. If you have experienced any of the above concerns, talk to us about our splint appliance as a non-surgical, non-evasive treatment option.
Treatment helps rest the muscles and joints, and helps relieve symptoms and restore function. But TMD symptoms may return over time. You can avoid future problems by maintaining the health of your jaw.
• Avoid foods and habits that make your symptoms worse.
• Choose soft foods, avoid biting into hard foods and grind or finely chop meats and other tough foods.
• Lower the stress level in your life.
• Follow your treatment plan.
• Pay attention to your body and get help if symptoms recur.
• Using ice may help to reduce swelling and pain and using heat may help muscles relax, increasing blood flow.
• Use a gel pack or ice wrapped in a towel for swelling or severe pain. Apply for 10-20 minutes, and repeat as needed.
• Use moist heat for mild to moderate muscle pain. Apply a moist, hot towel to the muscles for 10-20 minutes, and repeat as needed.
Apnea, sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are defined as the cessation of breathing for 10 or more seconds while asleep. Snoring is often an associated problem with sleep apnea. Often this is what the patient, parent or spouse notices.
It is estimated that more than 80 million people in North America snore while sleeping. In addition to the annoyance, snoring can kill you, according to a UCLA School of Dentistry study. Struggling to breathe can cause blood pressure to soar, which can damage the walls of the carotid arteries and increase the risk of stroke.
During sleep, the muscles and soft tissues in the throat and mouth relax, making the breathing airway smaller. The decrease in the airway space increases the velocity of air flowing through the airway during breathing. As a result, soft tissues like the soft palate and the uvula vibrate, causing snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be a serious medical condition, and you may be referred to a sleep specialist. However, the majority of snorers can use a sleep apnea device to prevent snoring.
Types of Orthodontic Treatments for Sleep Apnea and TMJ
A mouthpiece (oral appliance) may be helpful in some people with mild sleep apnea. Some doctors may also recommend this if you snore loudly but do not have sleep apnea.
A custom fit plastic mouthpiece may be a treatment option for snoring. Since Dr. Callahan is a specialist in correcting teeth and jaw problems he is very familiar with this condition. The mouthpiece will adjust your lower jaw to help keep the airway in your throat open while you are sleeping. Air can then be allowed to flow more freely into your lungs.
Another type of splint for help with TMJ problems, or their associated difficulties such as grinding and clinching, may be used. This type of splint is called a Centric or Diagnostic Splint which helps the patient achieve a balanced occlusion or bite. This helps relax the jaw and may give relief from pain or other associated symptoms.