FAQs
TMJ & SLEEP THERAPY CENTRE OF THE LOWCOUNTRY

Here are some commonly asked questions people have for our doctors:

Seemingly ordinary headaches can be a sign something is wrong if they are chronic. Oftentimes, they are symptoms of a sleep-breathing disorder or TMJ injury.

The condition cannot be self-diagnosed. However, signs that there might be a problem include:

  • Headaches – recurring or chronic
  • Earache or ear symptoms of stuffiness or ringing
  • Facial Pain or Jaw Pain
  • Neck pain or stiffness
  • Jaw joint sounds – clicking, popping or grating noises
  • Limited ability to open or close mouth
  • Jaw locking (open or closed)
  • Sensitive, loose or worn down teeth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty sleeping

Unlike splints, the orthotics (orthopedic appliances) we use are individually designed and fabricated using the only peer reviewed bite technique to provide the best position and fit for healing. They are used short term (approximately 12 weeks) to provide decompression to the joint during the rehabilitation process.

Successfully healing the joints means giving them the stability, support, and protection they need during the day and at night. Because our bodies function differently at different times of day, two types of appliances are needed.

Although eating is a normal function, when there is a TM joint disorder, chewing and swallowing without support and protection aggravates the condition preventing and prolonging the healing process.  The daytime appliance supports and protects the joint.  The TMJ joints are not unlike any other joint in the body; when rehabilitating the knee or ankle, would you expect to remove the brace each time you walk?

If it is truly ‘just snoring’, you can! But neither you nor the doctor can be certain the snoring is not a symptom of sleep apnea without proper diagnosis. Treating a patient for snoring when it is really sleep apnea can have life threatening results.

A night guard is typically made to protect teeth that are being worn down due to unconscious behavior during sleep. Often that behavior is due to a breathing problem the patient is not aware of – it makes them unconsciously move the jaw around all night to get a better airway. A sleep appliance is specifically designed to maintain an open airway helping you get a better night sleep and feel more rested in the morning.

Yes, oral appliance therapy is one of the recommended treatment options for patients with a diagnosis of mild to moderate sleep apnea. The oral appliance is worn in the mouth to keep the airway / throat open during sleep by controlling the position of the tongue and lower jaw. For severe cases, oral appliances can also be used with CPAP to make it more tolerable to wear.

Snoring is an indicator of a possible sleep apnea condition. Sleep apnea has no boundaries for age or size. In fact, there is a 70% overlap between snoring and apnea in children. These are staggering numbers and the reason the American Association of Pediatrics ‘Practice Parameter’ states that all children should be screened for snoring. An affirmative response for snoring should be followed by a more detailed evaluation.

The standard of care is always to attempt non-surgical rehabilitation before invasive surgical procedures. The percentage of patients who need surgery is extremely low.

Night terrors and mood swings in children can indicate a sleep-related breathing disorder due to improper or insufficient skeletal development resulting in insufficient airway. This can create a form of suffocation causing night terrors and moodiness. Insufficient airway and lack of oxygen has also been associated with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Children with OSA are frequently misdiagnosed as having an ADHD and placed on unnecessary medication.

It is a dental physician (DDS or DMD) who evaluates and treats these conditions. Our doctors are certified in both craniofacial pain and dental sleep medicine. It is important that the dentist selected has completed specific education and training for these complex conditions.

We are a private pay office. We can bill your insurance for reimbursement, but you will need to pay upfront. Since our services are medical in nature, dental plans often do not cover them.

If your dental plan has benefits for evaluating or treating TMJ conditions, we will bill for your reimbursement. However most dental plans only cover dental treatments and TMJ and Sleep conditions are medical in nature.

TMJ and sleep apnea are often co-occurring disorders, meaning if a patient has one, they are more likely than the general population to also have the other. Both of these conditions can also be treated with appliance therapy, which we offer.

The appliances we use are designed specifically for the user. We also opt for appliances that utilize the only peer-reviewed bite technique for healing. They are used short term (approximately 12 weeks) to provide decompression to the joint during the rehabilitation process.

Successfully healing the joints means giving them the stability, support, and protection they need during the day and at night. Because our bodies function differently at different times of day, two types of appliances are needed.

Eating is a normal function the body is designed for, but when there is a problem with the jaw joints, it can aggravate the condition. Wearing an appliance while eating gives the joint the proper support to prevent irritating or worsening the condition.

You can! But you need to make sure it really is just snoring. Oftentimes, snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea, which can be deadly. That is why you need a proper evaluation, and potentially a specialized appliance.

Night guards are designed to protect the teeth, not address behaviors that are causing problems, nor does it help with breathing issues that could be driving those behaviors. Our appliances do, which gives them a significant edge over ordinary night guards.

No, you do not need to use a CPAP to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. And oral appliance can be used instead to keep the airway and throat open while sleeping. It controls the position of the tongue and lower jaw.

Snoring on occasion is not a cause for concern, but chronic snoring is. Sleep apnea often presents as simple snoring, but 70 percent of children who snore regularly actually have sleep apnea. All children should be evaluated for obstructive sleep apnea, especially those who snore.

While it is possible that surgery will be needed, in most cases, it is not. We will look into all non-surgical options before choosing such a procedure.

Night terrors and behavior changes can have their roots in sleep-related breathing disorders. In essence, the child is partially suffocating at night, resulting in sensations of fear and a lack of quality sleep. Children with OSA are often misdiagnosed as having behavior disorders and other mental health issues when really, they are just struggling to breathe at night.

The doctors are dental physicians (DDS or DMD) who evaluate and treat these conditions. Our doctors are certified in both craniofacial pain and dental sleep medicine. It is important that the dentist selected has completed specific education and training for these complex conditions.

Contact us today for an evaluation!