Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions

What are temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and orofacial pain conditions?

A typical temporomandibular disorder (TMD) may involve the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or any of its surrounding soft tissues. Orofacial pain refers to any condition that manifests with pain in the head. Common symptoms include:

  • jaw pain
  • jaw noise
  • jaw locking
  • limited jaw opening
  • atypical tooth pain
  • ear pain
  • tinnitus
  • headache
  • neckpain
  • What can be done?

    Clinicians trained in the treatment of TMD, orofacial pain, oral medicine and dental sleep medicine are available for evaluation and treatment.

    They include dentists, physical therapists, health psychologists, and other physician specialists. Some ways you can begin to reduce jaw pain are to stop gum chewing, eat foods that require less chewing, limit caffeine, and avoid jaw activities that increase jaw tension or noise. When eating, try to chew on both sides of your mouth simultaneously. Avoid jaw clenching and leaning on your jaw. You may find that heat or cold applied to the jaw(s) is helpful. Over the counter pain remedies may also help decrease jaw discomfort. These may offer short-term relief until you can be evaluated.

What is Dental Sleep Medicine?

Dental Sleep Medicine involves the use of oral appliances for the treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders (SBD) such as obstrucsleep apnea and snoring.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by multiple apnea events, due to short-duration blockages of the upper airway during sleep, resulting in decreased airflow to the lungs. OSA in general decreases the quality of life of the affected adults. In fact, it is a life threatening condition and has been reported as a risk factor for depression, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, reduced vitality, impotence, diabetes, obesity, and occupational and motor vehicle accidents.

Classic symptoms of OSA include loud snoring and arousal/awakening from sleep, daytime sleepiness, tiredness, and lack of concentration. However, patients with OSA may not present clinically with these symptoms. Since, there are three types of apnea -- central, mixed, and OSA -- an accurate medical history and an overnight polysomnography studying at a sleep clinic are necessary to diagnose the condition.

Among the non-surgical treatment options for OSA are: behavioral modification, CPAP, medication, and intraoral mandibular advancement appliances. The scientific literature reports that mandibular advancement appliances have been successfully used as an alternative option for treating mild-to-moderate OSA in adults who do not tolerate the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. Most intraoral appliances hold the jaw forward which opens the airway.

Our dental team treats patients referred by sleep specialists and diagnosed with OSA by fabricating intraoral appliances. In our opinion, when appropriately used, the custom made intraoral appliance is effective in treating snoring and mild-to-moderate OSA. Patients report a decrease of their symptoms and experience an improvement in the quality of sleep.

Where can I find help?

The TMD, Orofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine Clinic at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry is an interdisciplinary clinic offering comprehensive evaluation and treatment for patients with these problems (612-626-0140). Your health care provider may be familiar with specialists in your area. You may also check the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (phone: 609-423-3629 or, American Dental Association, Minnesota Dental Association, or Academy of General Dentistry.

What does treatment cost?

Treatment costs vary. In the USA, most TMD treatment is considered under medical insurance benefits, not dental insurance. Out of pocket expenses are usually similar to those for other rehabilitation services.

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  • Last modified on January 15, 2013