older Asian man lays in bed with jaw pain

Our Rochester, Michigan dentists have successfully treated patients suffering from headaches and an array of jaw pain symptoms, categorized as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), for over a decade. With growing clinical evidence connecting TMD to sleep breathing disorders, they are increasingly using proven TMD therapies garnered from individualized muscle tracking technology to successfully treat patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as well.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of patients we treat for combined obstructive sleep apnea/TMD since our practice began monitoring and treating sleep apnea 8 years ago,” says Dr. Doolin. “During that time, we have refined treatment approaches and the design of oral therapy appliances as new information, research and technology have become available.”

More Patients Seek Out Dentists for Dual Treatment as Growing Clinical Evidence Links Jaw Pain and Sleep Apnea

somnomed oral appliance

Recent data indicate an estimated 75% of people with TMD also have sleep breathing disorders. On the flip side, 52% of people with sleep disorders have TMD problems, according to Dr. Haddad. Patients with TMD frequently have a destructive, worn-down bite that forces their lower jaw backward. This backward positioning can increase the degree of blockage of a person’s airway while they sleep This then leads to obstructive sleep apnea. Conversely, a person with an obstructed airway may clench and grind their teeth As a result, it can wear down the teeth and deteriorate the bite, leading to TMD symptoms and pain

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Various tools are used, including advanced muscle tracking technology, to diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea. Patients undergo a sleep evaluation that provides an Apnea/Hypopnea Index (AHI). AHI is a measurement of the severity of sleep apnea. The studies combine information on blood oxygen level and the number of times sleep is disrupted by low oxygen during sleep to help us determine a course of action. 

If there is a diagnosis of mild to moderate OSA, the dentists provide a customized mandibular splint device for nighttime wear. The device moves the lower jaw forward and hold the airway open. They then reevaluate their patients with their screening equipment to determine if the appliance is successful. If the sleep evaluation reveals that a patient has severe sleep apnea, they will be referred for an evaluation with a sleep physician. Sometimes a comprehensive dental and medical approach brings the best patient outcome.

Why You Shouldn’t Try to Treat Sleep Apnea Yourself

Sally Shrock of Rochester, a patient who experienced symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, says OSA treatment changed her life. “For the first time in years, I now sleep like a baby with very little snoring. What a blessing that is for me and for my husband.” Dr. Haddad cautions against self-treatment and says one-size-fits-most sleep apnea appliances can hurt, not heal.

Self-treatment for sleep apnea also includes changing up your sleep position, using a different pillow, buying nose strips, or other items found on the internet. The best way to treat your sleep apnea is by seeing a qualified sleep dentist. Although changing up your sleep position by sleeping on your side instead of your back or using a different pillow might help, it won’t treat the initial cause of sleep apnea.

Treatment for Both TMJ and Sleep Apnea in Rochester, MI

The proper approach to treating TMD and Obstructive Sleep Apnea is with the use of precise muscle measuring and monitored therapy, not simply an oral appliance. The incorrect appliance can force patients into a headache/jaw pain spiral. We have treated patients in our practice who experienced adverse effects from the use of over-the-counter, internet ordered, or poorly made sleep appliances.

When we made new, precisely measured sleep appliances based on their personal muscle physiology and monitored the outcome, their pain symptoms were relieved and their sleep issues improved with greater predictability. Our alternatives to CPAP are comfortable, convenient, and easy to use. Oral appliance therapy is one of the top choices of patients suffering from sleep apnea and TMJ but doesn’t want to deal with the hassles of CPAP.

If you would like to learn more about TMJ and sleep apnea treatments at Rochester Advanced Dentistry, please request an appointment online today.