Use DNA to Improve Snoring

shutterstock_346374167_720Did you know that 27.4% of Alaskans are sleep deprived?

As we discussed the connection between Sleep Apnea and TMD we touched on some ways that we could help you with snoring and sleep apnea problems. The newest tool in our arsenal is a DNA Appliance System. As one of only two certified providers in Alaska, we are proud to begin introducing this system to our state and helping nearly a third of our state to rest better.

So what is the DNA Appliance System?dna logo

Though your genes can be a factor in whether or not you suffer from sleep apnea, in this instance we aren’t talking about Deoxyribonucleic acid or Ribonucleic acid. The Daytime-Nighttime Appliance (DNA) is a patented, FDA registered device that aims to correct the underlying issue instead of simply masking it. In combination with the mandibular Repositioning-Nighttime Appliance (mRNA) this system allows us to gently and non-surgically correct many of the issues that cause TMD, Sleep Apnea, snoring, and headaches.

The other method that we like to use to manage snoring and sleep apnea is a Mandibular Advancement Device. This simple protrudes your lower jaw in an effort to keep your airway from collapsing as you sleep. This device still has a firm place in our treatment line-up, but it does have some drawbacks. The biggest one being that it has to be worn over a lifetime.

A longer term solution is to use non-surgical airway remodeling of the upper airway so that the underlying issues can be fully resolved.

The DNA is worn during the evening and at night. It gently increases the size of your upper jaw over time. Which, in turn, increases the volume of the nasal airway. More volume means more air, less constriction, and more sleep.

The mRNA is worn at night. It corrects the position of your teeth and places them in a more natural position. It also increases the redevelops the upper airway. This combined approach helps to reduce TMD symptoms, headaches, and snoring in patients of all ages.

If you’re looking for a solution to your sleep issues that doesn’t involve surgery, drugs, pain, or injections, contact us today! We’d be happy to tell you more about the new option and see if it’s right for you.

The TMD and Sleep Apnea Connection


Are you suffering from daytime drowsiness, high blood pressure, morning headaches, depression, decreased libido, or impaired concentration? Is your partner suffering with a bed-mate who snores?

You might have sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing.

Do you hear clicking in your jaw, struggle with painful chewing, have trouble opening or closing your jaw properly, feel tension in your temple muscles, have toothaches, or headaches?

Then you might have Temporal Mandibular Disorder.

Be wary though, TMD and SDB share many symptoms and occasionally TMD symptoms can mimic or mask those of sleep apnea. More often however, where there is one you will find the other because the two are interconnected.

Sleep apnea leads to TMD.
When people who suffer from sleep apnea grind their teeth or shift their jaw in an unconscious attempt to find a better position in which to breathe can cause the temporomandibular joint to become inflamed and exacerbate a pre-existing TMD.

TMD leads to sleep apnea.
If your teeth aren’t positioned correctly then your lower jaw can go back too far when it closes. If your jaw goes back too far this can cause problems with your temporomandibular joint. TMD can lead to headaches and jaw aches. Head and jaw aches cause your head to move forward, straining the neck. Ongoing neck strain can cause the normal curvature of your spine to degenerate which restricts normal movements like those needed to breath unobstructed. The DNA Appliance System is a new solution that we’re excited to begin implementing.

In most cases this cycle can be prevented. With a simple treatments such as Six Month Smiles or Ortho-tain, we can make sure that your teeth are properly aligned. And with a simple Mandibular Advancement Device we can prevent your airway from being blocked by your tongue and the soft tissues of your throat.

If you’re suffering with TMD, jaw pain, headaches, and interrupted sleep, contact us today to see if we can help you feel better.

How Can I Deal With My TMD?

shutterstock_247249192In our last blog we talked about what Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is and how you could identify it. Now you know what it is, but what do you do about it?

Diagnosis is an important step before you begin any treatment. There are many other dental conditions that can cause some of the same symptoms as TMD. Please always consult with your dentist before you begin any treatment.

Home Remedies

There are things that you can at home to relieve your pain. But, we still recommend that you go to see your dentist as soon as you suspect you might have TMD.

  • Avoid extreme jaw movements – keep yawning to a minimum and avoid yelling, singing, and anything else that requires your mouth to open wide.
  • Keep your chin up – Don’t rest your phone between your shoulder and your ear, don’t rest your chin on your hand, and make sure that you’re practicing good posture. Proper posture reduces tension on your neck and will help relieve the pain.
  • Don’t grind your teeth – keep your teeth slightly apart as often as possible. Constant clenching and grinding causes a lot of damaging pressure. Put your tongue between your teeth to help control the habit.
  • Eat soft foods – yogurt, mashed potatoes, soup, scrambled eggs, fish, cooked veggies, beans, and cottage cheese are all healthy and soft foods. Crunchy foods like pretzels and raw carrots or chewy foods like caramels and taffy will dramatically increase the strain in an already sensitive area.
  • Avoid excess chewing – don’t chew gum, avoid chewy candies, don’t munch on ice, and stop chewing on pencils/straws/pens. Overly repetitive motions will aggravate the situation.
  • Use cold packs and moist heat – Apply an ice back to the side of your face and temple for about ten minutes, stretch your jaw, and then hold a warm wash cloth to your face for about five minutes.
  • Take over-the-counter medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen will reduce the swelling and reduce muscle pain.
  • Learn to relax – your tension will be held in your jaw as well as through the rest of your body. Physical therapy, massage, and biofeedback are all options for stress reduction. Yoga is a fantastic way to stretch and focus on yourself. Meditating is also an excellent way to reduce your tension levels. Ask your doctor to show you some simple stretches or massage techniques to stretch, strengthen, and relieve your muscles.

Traditional Treatments

At your next appointment, these are some options to discuss with your dentist. They’re all tried-and-true ways to relieve your discomfort.

  • Dental work – crowns, bridges, implants, or braces are all ways to rebalance your bite surface or correct a bite problem that might have caused your TMD.
  • Bite Guardsplastic mouthpieces that are molded to fit over your teeth are actually quite comfortable. The guards will keep your teeth apart and prevent grinding or clenching. These can also correct your bite, if necessary, by pulling your teeth into the proper position. Night guards are worn while you sleep and splints are worn all the time.
  • Medications
    • Pain Relievers – if over-the-counter remedies aren’t enough, your dentist can prescribe higher dose NSAIDS.
    • Tricyclic Anti-depressants – traditionally used for depression, medications such as amitriptyline can be used for pain relief as well.
    • Muscle relaxers – if you grind or clench your teeth these can be used for a short amount of time to help stop the habit.
    • Anti-anxiety sedatives – reducing anxiety can sometimes reduce the stress that causes the grinding, clenching, and tensing of your facial muscles that contribute to TMD. Taken at night they’ll work while you sleep.

Other Treatments

These are less traditional remedies but have proven to be effective for many people.

  • Physical therapy – heat/cold treatments, stretches, and exercises will stretch and strengthen the affected area.
  • Counseling – can help you to understand the factors and behaviors that aggravate your pain.
  • Trigger point injections – pain medication and anesthesia can be injected directly in the tender muscles, or trigger points, to give more immediate relief. Corticosteroids and Botox are also occasionally used.
  • Ultrasound – deep heat applied to the joint will help to improve mobility.
  • Radio wave therapy – stimulate the joint and increases blood flow to reduce pain.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) uses low-level electrical currents to relax your jaw joint and facial muscles.
  • Low level laser therapy – lowers inflammation to help you move your neck easier and open your jaw wider.

Surgical Options

If all of the other options have been exhausted and you still haven’t found relief you can discuss surgery with your dentist. Once surgery is done though, it can’t be undone so make sure that you’ve explored all of your other options and even get a second opinion. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends that surgery be avoided whenever possible.

  • Arthrocentesis – if you haven’t had a history of TMD but your jaw is locked, this is the procedure most likely to be used. It can be performed in office with only general anesthesia. A needle is then inserted into the joint to wash it out. If there’s damaged tissue, a dislodged disk stuck in the joint, or just to unstick the joint, a special tool will be used.
  • Arthoscopy – is performed with an arthroscope; a tool with a lens and a light on it that allows your doctor to see your joint. Hooked up to a video screen, the tool is inserted through a small hole in front of your ear. With the aid of the lens the doctor can see any damage, remove inflamed tissue, or realign the disc. This is minimally invasive, leaves a tiny scar, and has a short recovery time.
  • Open-joint surgery – is the most extreme option. If your joints are wearing down, there are tumors in or around the joint, your joint is scarred, or your joint is filled with bone chips this procedure might be necessary. There is a longer recovery time, a larger scar, and greater chance for complications.

What Is TMJ? Or Do You Have TMD?

More than fifteen percent of American adults live with some form of chronic facial pain like jaw pain, headaches, or earaches. About ten million of those people can attribute that pain to TMJ Disorders.

What is the difference between TMJ and TMD?

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on each side of the head just in front of the ears. It is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. Along with muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones, your TMJ helps to make the different movements required for eating and talking.
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) covers multiple conditions that affect the TM joints. TMD can occur when your jaw opens, closes or moves from side to side. TMD pain can be experienced in the jaw joint as well as in the muscles that control your jaw’s movement.

What causes TMD?

Because the TMJ combines hinge action with sliding movement it is a complicated structure that is easily damaged. The areas of bone that interact with the joints are covered in cartilage and separated by small disks to absorb shock. This set-up normally keeps movement smooth. Erosion of the disks, slipping of the discs out of alignment, damage to the cartilage, or injury to the joint from a hard impact are all risks to joint’s efficiency.
There’s no definitive cause of TMD and it can be hard to pinpoint for each person, especially if there’s no problems in the joint itself. Symptoms can arise from problems with the joint or the muscles around it. Injury to your jaw, trauma in the muscles of your head and neck such as whiplash, teeth grinding, arthritis, improper bite, jaw dislocation, and stress can all be contributing factors.
Stress from heavy lifting or taxing situations can aggravate TMD because it generally causes you to clenching and grinding of the teeth.

What are the symptoms of TMD?
TMD affects nearly twice as many women as men and is most common women between the ages of 20 and 40.
Symptoms include:

  • Pain in or around your ear.
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
  • Dizziness
  • Aching facial pain.
  • Headaches and neck or shoulder aches.
  • Swelling on the side of your face.
  • A tired feeling in the muscles of your face.
  • Tenderness in your jaw.
  • Jaw pain that is worse in the morning or late afternoon.
  • Jaw pain while chewing, yawning, or biting.
  • Difficulty opening your mouth wide.
  • Jaws that get stuck or locked open.
  • Tooth sensitivity when no dental problems can be found.
  • Clicking, popping, or grinding noises when you open and close your mouth. This may not include pain.
  • Trouble chewing as if your upper and lower teeth aren’t fitting properly together anymore.

How do you know if you have TMD?
Because there is such a variety of symptoms and there are many other conditions that can cause similar symptoms, you should see your dentist for a diagnosis.
Your dentist will first want to rule out other causes such as tooth decay, sinus problems, arthritis, or gum disease.  Then she will ask you some questions about your health history and conduct a physical exam. During the exam she’ll check your joints for pain and tenderness, listen for clicks, pops, or grinding during movement, make sure your jaw doesn’t lock open or closed, and test your bite. If TMD is suspected you may need x-rays, an MRI, or a CT scan to get a more detailed picture of your joint and disc health.
In most cases discomfort from TMD will eventually go away with some simple self-care practices. If your symptoms aren’t going away, try to stick with conservative treatments. If irreversible treatments are recommended, make sure to get a second opinion first. We’ll cover these self-care practices and treatment options more in our next blog.