TMJ pain is prevalent among a vast population and requires expertise in curing. Treatments like eating soft foods, applying ice packs, wearing a splint or night guard, and avoiding extreme jaw movements can only render temporary relief from TMJ pain. Thus, seeing an airway-focused dentist is your best bet for an effective TMJ pain treatment.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is an acronym, the complete form of which is the temporomandibular joint. Anatomically, the temporomandibular joint(s) can be found just below the ear. The TMJs connect your lower jawbone with your skull. TMJ assists in movements such as chewing and speaking. You may experience multiple symptoms as a part of a TMJ disorder.
What is TMD?
TMD is the temporomandibular joint disorder, which refers to any TMJ dysfunction. Most people use the terms TMJ and TMD interchangeably.
TMJ pain occurs when the muscles and ligaments around the jaw joints become inflamed or irritated. This condition might be acute or chronic, and its pain may be mild or severe.
Sometimes the main reason behind TMJ pain is excessive strain on the jaw joints and the muscle group which controls chewing, swallowing, and speech. This strain might result from bruxism, which is the chronic, involuntary clenching or grinding of the teeth. Even trauma to the jaw, the head, or the neck may cause TMD.
Airway-focused dentistry can help you relieve TMJ pain, but before we get into why to choose airway-focused dentistry, let’s take a look at;
What is Airway-focused dentistry?
Airway-focused dentistry is a relatively new and growing field focused on the mouth’s structure and how it impacts your breathing process.
Airway-focused dentists diagnose sleep-disordered breathing by looking for signs of mouth breathing when you’re sleeping. Things such as tooth wear, the position of your tongue, and the condition of the soft tissue in your mouth are diagnostics to airway-focused dentists. It also treats sleep apnea apart from being an effective TMJ pain treatment.
Why choose Airway Orthodontics Over Traditional Orthodontics?
Prevention: Airway-focused dentistry helps correct jaw growth to prevent disturbing breathing, sleep, and TMJ pain by restoring the airway. It does so by achieving a balance in the facial structure and function.
Overall health: Airway-focused dentists don’t just treat the symptoms; they look for the cause and holistically treat them.
Interdisciplinary: Airway-focused dentists address multiple aspects of good health, including tongue posture, breathing, eating, sleeping, mental well-being, and body posture.
Airway-focused dentistry includes treatments such as:
● Straightening and aesthetically developing a healthy alignment of the teeth and dental arches
● Treating TMJ disorders and TMJ pain
● Non-surgically treating airway space
● Reducing as well as eliminating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
All of which are different from the methods used in traditional dentistry
How does an Airway-focused dentist treat TMJ pain?
An airway-focused dentist uses techniques to ease and treat TMJ pain, such as; Braces and Aligners, Alternate Lightwire Appliance, Maxillary Skeletal Expander, and Day Night Appliance/ Vivos (DNA).
Let’s examine the unique DNA treatment for TMJ pain rendered by airway-focused dentists.
The DNA Appliance gently expands the upper arch space in three dimensions, increasing the nasal cavity’s size. As the upper arch widens, the lower jaw can move forward into a natural position.
The tongue and soft tissues are pulled forward by the forward movement of the jaw, resulting in an increase in the airway’s size. The result is a drastic improvement in the patient’s ability to breathe. The bones get remodeled over time, non-surgically making a core and foundational correction to the structure of the airway. DNA Treatment is a pain-free and minimally invasive process.
How Does the DNA Appliance Work?
The DNA appliance system applies light intermittent vibrational forces to the teeth, helping your jaw reach its full growth potential by stimulating your growth centers and stem cells. The purpose of the DNA appliance is to stimulate the maximum expression of our genetic growth potential. Then, it gently expands the upper arch space in three dimensions, increasing the size of the nasal cavity.
A wider airway reduces the chances of snoring and sleep apnea and increases your ability to get oxygen into your body tissues, especially when sleeping.
The result of DNA appliances is a dramatic improvement in the patient’s ability to breathe, which allows many CPAP wearers to become CPAP free, providing an alternative that is corrective in its true sense.
The 3D imaging process plays a vital role in airway-focused dentistry and DNA appliances as it compares the width of the airway before and after treatment with the DNA appliance. The results after the treatment are a significant change in the patient’s ability to breathe.
The DNA appliance is worn like a dental or orthodontic retainer; however, it is worn only in the evening/night and a few hours during the day. In contrast to several other appliances that rely solely on the continuous force, which damages sensitive tissues, the DNA appliance applies intermittent force. Hence, providing a resting period for the tissues between nightly use.
Cosmetic Benefits of Airway-Focused Dentistry:
Airway-focused dentistry straightens teeth and improves the whole upper airway. In addition, you get the cosmetic benefit of facial feature balancing by improving the upper airway through increased facial volume.
Airway-focused dentists go beyond traditional dentistry with a holistic approach and treat the craniofacial, dental, airway, and TMJ structures as a whole.
Several researchers have published over 80 clinical studies showing clear and compelling results of changes in the overall size and position of the upper airway and surrounding facial structures via airway-focused dentistry.
Patients who complete treatments rendered by airway-focused dentists no longer require CPAP or Mandibular advancement, which are oral devices worn while sleeping over a lifetime.
Oral appliances used by airway-focused dentists are FDA-cleared; most are all-natural, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical solutions.