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How Neuromuscular Dentistry Could Save Lives

When you think about temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder and how it affects the rest of the body, you may think of migraine headaches, neck and back pain, poor posture, and even tinnitus (ringing in the ears). But what you may not be thinking about could literally kill you.

That’s because TMJ disorders can cause other disorders, such as the breathing disorder sleep apnea, or more specifically, obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your airway becomes obstructed while you are sleeping, causing you to stop breathing. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, people with untreated sleep apnea are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke and are at three times greater risk of premature death.

One of the common denominators between sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint disorder is headaches, but unlike sleep apnea, TMJ disorders tend to trigger migraines, while that’s not necessarily true for sleep apnea headaches.

If you are experiencing frequent headaches along with symptoms like fatigue, memory issues, depression or irritability, you could be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

Additionally, if those symptoms occur in conjunction with bruxism (grinding your teeth); neck, back and shoulder stiffness; tinnitus; clicking or popping of the jaw; and stiffness or the inability to open and close the mouth, you could be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder – or both temporomandibular joint disorder and obstructive sleep apnea.

So, how can you tell the difference between the two conditions, and which, if any, you may have? The answer is much easier than you think. By visiting your dentist, of course! Dr. Simpson is trained in a method called neuromuscular dentistry, which helps to realign the jaw to its optimum position to eliminate TMJ disorder and its associated pain. She can also evaluate you for signs of obstructive sleep apnea and refer you to a sleep specialist if she suspects this disorder may be present.

To schedule an evaluation for TMJ disorder, please give Dr. Simpson’s office a call at 910-239-7164.

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