Sleeping problems? Did you know your dentist can help

Sleeping problems? Did you know your dentist can help

Do you have difficulty in getting a good nights sleep? It is more common than you think, and recent studies in the USA have shown that 12% of Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders and as many as 6% experience occasional sleeping problems.

Many people who suffer from sleep disorders usually also have problems with chronic headaches, facial pain and or earache which can be caused by sleep apnea (having one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths when you sleep) or bruxism (grinding or clenching of your teeth). This can in turm lead to disorders of the tempero mandibular joint (TMJ) which is the point where your lower jaw fits into the skull and allows you to talk, chew and yawn.

It is a condition we see more frequently in dental practices as it can be directly linked to stress and tension. It truly is a condition of the age we live in. Other causes include competitive personality types and abnormal alignment of the teeth.

If you suffer from broken dental fillings, broken teeth or severly worn teeth, you most certainly are a tooth grinder. When you are awake and clench your teeth together the forces reached in your mouth is up to 36kg per square cm. But when you are in a deep sleep, these forces can reach up to 128kg per square cm and can potentially cause irreversable damage to your teeth and jaw. Not to speak of those unexplainable headaches and sleeping problems you can suffer from.

There are many remedies for sleeping problems caused by TMJ disorder and any good dentist, physiotherapist or chiropractor will be able to help. You can start at home by gently stretching your neck and moving your jaw from side to side. Try to stick to a softer diet and avoid chewing gum.

Most of the symptoms originating from TMJ disorders can be resolved without prescription drugs or surgery. In the dental practice, we can treat these problems by prescribing the correct splint that is designed to keep teeth seperated and the joint of the jaw in its most natural position during sleep. We can also restore the allingment of your teeth by balancing the way you bite. We do this by restoring and reshaping worn and broken teeth.

There are many treatment modalities available in modern dentistry to avoid or limit future problems.

Dr. Christa Engelbrecht