COLORADO SPRINGS – In this Your Healthy Family, we are talking about TMJ disorders with Dr. Christina Cairns from Colorado Springs Sleep Apena and Snoring Solutions. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It’s the joint that connects your jaw to your skull.
Dr. Cairns explains how to recognize if your having problems that can develop while you are asleep. “A good way to screen yourself is to think about if you wake up in the morning feeling like the muscles alongside your cheek are tired. Or if you get a headache in one side your temples or even in the back of your head. Those can be kind of some telltale signs that maybe you’re overworking those muscles that help you open and close your jaw, and that will be disruptive to your sleep and lead to a poor quality of sleep.”
There are two common TMJ issues says Dr. Cairns, the first has to do with the small disc in the joint. “There’s a disc that is located just above the lower jaw bone and sits nice and tite in the base of the skull in the fausca. That disc is suppose to travel with the lower jaw bone, as it opens and closes and if it doesn’t that can lead to some clicking or popping.”
For some people the clicking and popping can be normal or painless. Dr. Cairns says if the clicking and popping is in conjunction with pain you should get it checked out.
The other common TMJ disorder has to do with the muscles around the jaw joint. Dr. Cairns explains, “The temporalis and the masseter (muscles) are able to exert a significant amount of force when you clench your teeth. Over working these muscles is just like doing some kind of exercise in the gym where you’re just holding a weight nonstop without flexing or extending. Over time that will lead to some jaw joint issues.”
TMJ disorders can be treated with a dental appliance that you wear while you sleep. If your having TMJ issues that are causing you pain, relief can be found if you get it looked at. Your dentist or a dentist that specializes in sleep dentistry like Dr. Cairns is a great place to start.
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