Temporomandibular joint commonly known by its short form as – TMJ. It acts like a sliding hinge, connecting the jawbone to our skull. TMJ is on both the sides of the jaw thus controlling all the movements of the jaw. Any imperfections in the jaw movements lead to the disorders that make the life miserable. TMJ is the joint that allows all the movements that are required for chewing the food and speaking which are the main functions of our daily routine.
TMJ disorders can cause severe pain in your jaw and related muscles. There are multiple reasons for TMJ pain such as injury unusual habits like clenching (bruxism) or it can be even genetically malformed structures.
In most cases, the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ is temporary and can be treated with self-managed care at home. If the pain and discomfort is more you should always rush to your dentist who can advice you the proper treatment. Surgery is the last resort after you tried all the other noninvasive measures without any success.
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders
- Pain or tenderness or both on one or both of the joints
- Referred pain to your ear/ears
- Referred pain to your head
- Difficulty opening mouth, chewing or even speaking
- Locking of the joint, making it difficult to open or close your mouth
- Clicking sound or grating sensation on mouth opening and during chewing.
When to see a doctor
In case if you have persistent pain and tenderness with or without touching and there is inability to open mouth and the pain and discomfort is not reducing at all, then you must see the doctor. Your doctor, your dentist or a TMJ specialist will examine your jaw properly and advice you some radiographs for confirmation of the problem and start the treatment for you.
OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (OSA)
Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea.
The main types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor. Treatment can ease your symptoms and might help prevent heart problems and other complications.
There are various surgical and non-surgical treatment modalities that are available today. Your dentist will make a splint that can prevent collapse of the pharyngeal airway to stop the symptoms, such as snoring and daytime sleepiness. Snoring appears to affect 35-40% of adults and is related to OSA. The treatment options for OSA include positive airway pressure devices, medications (such as nasal steroids and decongestants) and surgical techniques such as, tracheostomy, nasal surgery (septoplasty, turbinectomy, polypectomy), uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and laser assisted uvulopalatoplasty. The recent approaches include electrical pacing, radio-frequency ablation and rapid maxillary expansion.