Opening Hours : Mon-Thurs 7:30am-5pm | Friday 7:30am-12:30pm
  Contact : [218] 729-7270

All Posts in Category: Technology

“I’ve got TMJ.” • “We all have TMJ. Let’s talk about Bruxism and Occlusal Guards.”

Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth.
       -Excerpt from the Mayo Clinic website, www.mayoclinic.org

  • Do you wake up in the mornings with dull headaches?
  • Do you consistently have pain in your jaw?
  • Have you ever noticed yourself clenching your teeth when you’re concentrating or stressed?
  • Do you grind your teeth?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you may suffer from bruxism and might benefit from an occlusal guard, sometimes also called a night guard. Have no fear, you are not alone! One study suggests over 3 million people suffer from bruxism in the United States each year.

An occlusal guard is a small, customized, transparent oral device that fits over a person’s lower teeth, which helps prevent them from clenching their jaw muscles and gnashing their teeth, thus relieving the associated tooth and jaw pain.

We all have temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect our jaws to our heads. You are able to feel these joints by placing your fingers on either side of your jaw and opening and closing your mouth a few times. This area on your face is an incredibly complex mix of joints, strong muscles and powerful ligaments. This area is easily irritated and has the potential to cause you a lot of pain. The TMJ is the location of the pain; bruxism is most often the actual diagnosis.

There are many things you can do yourself to help relieve bruxism pain. Reducing stress, staying rested, oral exercises, reducing or eliminating chewing gum, reducing caffeine intake, and applying heat or ice to the joints are just a few options to try. Consulting with your physician about any medications you are on can also be helpful since some medications can contribute to bruxism. If you’ve exhausted these ideas and are still experiencing pain or you need to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to experience relief, an occlusal guard might be a good fit for you.

Typically, the recurring jaw pain is discussed between doctor and patient at a hygiene appointment or during a regular dental visit. Once bruxism is officially diagnosed, it’s a fairly quick and easy process to procure an occlusal guard through our office. We start by taking impressions of your teeth. The impressions are sent to a dental lab and the lab creates a slim, clear occlusal guard that is a perfect fit over your lower teeth. We have you return to our office about a week later to deliver the occlusal guard, make sure it fits you well, make any adjustments and answer any additional questions you may have.

The best part about an occlusal guard: it’s easy to wear! It’s not big and ugly. It’s nearly unnoticeable while worn. Taking care of your occlusal guard is easy too. Simply rinse it with clear water after each use and allow it to air dry (out of reach of pets, of course). Or brush it gently with your toothbrush and a tiny amount of toothpaste when you feel it needs a little more attention, again letting it air dry.

Many dental insurances include coverage for occlusal guards. We are happy to send a preauthorization to your dental insurance company to determine if your insurance will supplement the cost of an occlusal guard. Regardless of dental benefits, an occlusal guard is a wise investment if you suffer from bruxism.

We typically recommend wearing the occlusal guard while you sleep, when it can help reduce the most amount of stress inflicted on the TMJ area, although some patients wear it during the day too. The bruxism pain is usually relieved quickly, most often within a week or two. It’s normal to go through periods of life when you experience more stress than normal or are not sleeping restfully. If you take a hiatus from wearing your occlusal guard and experience the bruxism pain returning, simply begin using the occlusal guard again. We highly recommend wearing an occlusal guard every night to maximize the benefits of the appliance and to experience consistent pain relief.

If you feel you’d benefit from an occlusal guard, please discuss it with us at your next dental appointment. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about both bruxism and occlusal guards. The more you know, the better off you are!

 

– Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

Read More

Sleep Apnea: Can An Oral Device Aid In Treatment?

Lisa sporting her Pike Lake Dental jacket while golfing last week.

Last week I was golfing in my women’s league and I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of wonderful new ladies. I was stylishly sporting my Pike Lake Dental jacket (Thanks, Dr. Matt! ☺) and one of the ladies said, “Oh, hey – Pike Lake Dental! You guys make oral appliances for sleep apnea! We both work at the Sleep Center.” I felt very proud to be working in an office that they were familiar with for aiding in the treatment of their patients. We do make some great oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea, and I’ll get to that shortly, but first… What IS sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is serious sleep disorder in which a person will stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. These pauses in breathing can last anywhere from a few

A view down the green.

seconds to over a minute each and can occur a few times per night or, in severe cases, hundreds of times per night!

There are three types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and Complex or Mixed Sleep Apnea, which is a combination of both. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea and the type that we’ll focus on here.

OSA is caused by an obstruction, or blockage, of the airway. When a person with OSA sleeps, particularly on their back, the muscles in their neck and throat relax. The lower jaw also relaxes and the tongue can fall back against the back of the throat, or soft palate, restricting the airway and reducing the amount of oxygen that can reach the lungs. The only way a sleep apnea episode ends is by the person waking up, often times with a loud snore or choking sound when breathing resumes.

What are some symptoms of untreated OSA?

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating

If left untreated, OSA can have some pretty nasty effects – heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and depression, just to name a few.

How is OSA diagnosed?

A physician will likely order a sleep study to be done for a patient exhibiting signs of OSA. The patient typically spends a night in a Sleep Lab or Sleep Center with medical equipment monitoring their sleep patterns.

How is OSA treated?

There are a few options for treatment, depending on the severity of the disorder. Sometimes behavior changes such as losing weight, changing to sleeping on one’s side, and avoiding alcohol and smoking can treat a mild case of OSA. With a severe case of OSA, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is often the best treatment to maintain the patient’s airway.

Now, somewhere in between the previous two, there is the “mild to moderate” case of OSA. Here’s where we, as dental professionals, come in. For this type of OSA, we can make a mandibular advancement splint to keep the airway open during sleep.

Wait… a what??? A mandibular advancement splint.

An example of a Tap3.

The brand name of the one we often use is called a Tap3. Here’s how it works:

Impressions are made of both the upper and lower teeth and a recording of how the teeth bite together is taken, along with a measurement of how far the lower jaw can be moved forward. We then have an appliance fabricated to fit very precisely to the teeth. The appliance is somewhat like a close fitting mouth guard for the upper and lower teeth with an attachment in between to keep the lower jaw in an advanced or protruded position, therefore keeping the airway open. This appliance allows for more freedom in sleeping position than the CPAP machine and is also free of the constant noise.

We often hear patients say how they have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have tried a CPAP machine, but they are just not able to adjust to sleeping with it. Does this sound like you or someone you know? The Tap3 Oral Appliance just might be an alternative option!

– Written and submitted by Lisa Mangan, LDA at Pike Lake Dental

Read More