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Spark Sleep Solutions provides effective, comfortable and safe treatment for sleep apnea disorders and snoring to people living in and around Los Gatos, San Jose, San Ramon and Santa Cruz, CA. We are sleep apnea specialists who focus on treating sleep apnea non-surgically and without the use of CPAP machines. Our practice is also very proud to offer TMJ/TMD treatment for people who suffer from this common disorder affecting the jaw joints. One of our doctors, Dr. John Kim, is a specialist in treating TMJ dysfunction. Dr. Kim completed a 2-year, full-time fellowship in Orofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine at UCLA in 2009. This is an impressive achievement as there are only six such programs in the United States with less than two dozen graduates per year.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joints or TMJ are the joints located on the side of your head which allow you to open and close your mouth. These joints work in unison with your jaw muscles, ligaments and jaw bone when you speak, chew and swallow. A temporomandibular jaw dysfunction or TMD is an umbrella term that covers pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw as well as the temporomandibular joints which connect the jaw to the skull.
People with TMJ often complain of many symptoms including jaw pain or tenderness, pain in or around the ear, chewing difficulty or pain while chewing and aching facial pain. Many people with TMJ also hear a clicking sound when they open their mouth or chew food.
The causes of TMJ can include arthritis, teeth clenching habits, degenerative bone disorder, jaw dislocation or injury, or simply a malocclusion (over or underbite).
How is TMJ Related to Sleeping?
For those who suffer from TMJ, the strain and stress on your joints can be at its worst during sleep. Any strain on the jaw (which can also occur from straining the face, neck, shoulders) can cause a person’s TMJ-related conditions, as well as the pain they experience, to intensify. The reason sleeping can cause some of the worst straining is because when a person is sleeping they unconcious might not be able to control portions of their body, like their jaw when teeth clenching or grinding.
Sleeping on your back is one of the best, and simplest ways to fight against this. By sleeping on your back, you can accomplish the following:
- Less pressure on the jaw
- Support for the head, neck and shoulders
- The best alignment of the body- keeping the spine, neck and head in a neutral position
- Decrease the likelihood to clench your jaw or grind teeth
The goal when treating TMJ is to:
- Relieve pain
- Restore function
- Prevent progression of the disorder
It is recommended by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) to try simple TMJ treatments before going on to more involved treatment. Some of these simple treatments include:
- Eating softer foods
- Avoiding biting your nails and chewing gum
- Using heating pads to control pain
- Practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension
- Sleeping on your back, instead of on your stomach
If you are diagnosed with TMJ/TMD, we can provide you with therapy that can help remove unhealthy pressure from the jaw joint and promote muscle relaxation. This will help your jaw joint position itself into the optimal position to help relieve you of the symptoms you’re experiencing. This therapy can also improve the function of your jaw.
If therapy is not enough, another effective way of treating TMJ is through the use of a customized TMJ orthotic device- essentially a mouthpiece. This type of treatment can bring relief to the overworked muscles of your jaw and face to help resolve your TMJ symptoms. The mouthpiece device can help your jaw muscles find their most comfortable, natural ‘resting place” that often reduces the painful symptoms of TMJ. For patients using our appliances, we also recommend specific exercises, stretches and massages that work to optimize muscle and joint health.
Schedule An Appointment with Dr. Kim Today
While TMJ therapy or a TMJ orthotic device can help correct your bite and decrease the symptoms you’re experiencing, the only way to find out what the best treatment option is for you is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kim at Spark Sleep Solutions. Once Dr. Kim has provided you with a comprehensive examination, he can work with you to find the most appropriate treatment option. To set up an appointment with Dr. Kim, simply call us at (408)-790-0182.