By Dr. Thomas Harter
Do you ever find yourself clenching your jaw during the day, or do you wake up with a sore jaw and teeth in the morning? Grinding and clenching (bruxism) can cause periodontal disease, tension headaches, TMJ soreness, fractures, and broken or loose teeth.
Bruxism can be caused by stress, body pain or reduced airflow while sleeping, or a combination of this. Daytime bruxism can be caused by stress or pain in your body, while nighttime bruxism is generally brought-on by decreased airflow. Breathing is our body’s top priority for health and survival. Any interruption of airflow immediately sends an alarm to the central nervous system to take action, and the jaw will either open, clench, or grind. The biting pressures during sleep can exceed the normal chewing pressures by as much as five times, causing damage to the teeth, bone, gums, jaw joints, and nerves. Over time the ability of the body to adapt is exceeded which leads to serious symptoms of TMJ disorder.
Common symptoms of TMJ are popping or clicking of the jaw and pain, including tension headaches and migraines. It’s common for individuals to suffer from TMJ for many years before getting treatment. The earlier you get treated, the better, but it’s never too late. There are multiple treatment options that can be custom tailored to your specific needs.
The Primary Issue Contributing to TMJ
In the absence of an acute injury to the head or facial area, we believe the primary cause of these problems is frequently related to insufficient oxygen while sleeping i.e. an unidentified sleep breathing disorder, sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Everyone assumes they are breathing and getting enough oxygen during sleep; few recognize that nighttime teeth grinding, and clenching (bruxing) is an unconscious effort to prevent suffocation. This repeated action all night long, over extended periods of time, wears down the skeletal structure and the joints resulting in TMJ pain, headaches, musculoskeletal pain, TMJ dysfunctions and facial neuralgias.
What are the Side Effects and Complications
Associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
• High blood pressure
• Cardiovascular disorders
• Chronic disease
• Behavioral issues
• Brain health impairment
How Mouth Breathing Causes TMJ
Our bodies are physiologically designed for nose breathing. When we’re breathing through our nose, all the developmental forces are balanced. Unfortunately, many of us breathed through our mouth when sleeping as children and teens, which unbalanced the forces of development, leading to tooth and jaw deformations that contribute to TMJ/TMD.
Our Bodies are Designed to Heal
The solution to curing chronic pain and TMJ is finding the origin of the problem. There are many contributors to this condition and an overall examination will help determine the primary sources so we can correct them. Chronic pain disrupts sleep and lack of sleep causes more pain, continuing the cycle. Nutrition and inflammatory foods must be considered as a contributor, just as poorly functioning parts of the body and a stressful environment that we live and work in.
When striving for your personal maximum potential, it all comes down to addressing these three areas: chemical/nutritional, mechanical/physical and emotional/spiritual. By addressing just one of these areas, you will see relief in the other two. Addressing all three will restore you to the maximum medical improvement potential. If you are looking for the maximum medical improvement, then you must do all you can to correct the factors that cause your condition. At TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of North Central Florida, Dr. Thomas Harter, DMD, will find solutions that give you control and to minimize the use of medications. He believes your body is an incredible machine that is designed to heal if we minimize the barriers standing in the way.
Dr. Thomas Harter
Dr. Harter is highly focused on providing the latest in non-invasive treatment protocols for treating children and adults for sleep disordered breathing, sleep apnea(ADHD/ADD in children) TMJ disorders, Chronic pain and headaches. He continually attends educational programs to learn the best techniques to deliver treatments that solve the problem by getting to the core issue at hand. He is a member of the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre International, Academy of Physiological Medicine & Dentistry, and the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain.
• Orofacial Pain Dentistry
• Sleep Medicine Dentistry
Dr. Thomas Harter is passionate about treating TMJ, sleep therapy and chronic pain conditions. Having experienced all three conditions himself, he has now dedicated his life and career to helping his patients overcome them.
You Don’t have to mask your pain with pain medications that can be hazardous on your organs and health. There are real solutions that work and treating these conditions can help to alleviate other comorbidities.
Contact TMJ Sleep Therapy Centre & Dentistry today at (352) 203-4493.
Dr.Thomas Harter, DMD
TMJ Sleep Therapy Centre & Dentistry
2609 SW 33rd St Suite 104
Ocala, Fl 34471