Frequently Asked Craniofacial, Sleep Apnea & TMJ Questions – Topeka, KS

Learn More About TMD & Sleep Apnea

Woman surrounded by questionmarks representing frequently asked questions

Do you have questions about TMD or sleep apnea? Would you like to learn about what type of treatments are out there that can help improve your health and daily life? Below, we’ve answered some of the most common questions that we get asked about each of these conditions from our patients. If you don’t see the answers that you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to call our office to ask any questions you may have.

What causes TMD?

TMJ dysfunction, also referred to as TMD, can be caused by a variety of underlying problems, including bite misalignment, past jaw trauma, an ill-fitted restoration, and teeth grinding.

Will my dental insurance cover TMJ therapy?

It’s important to keep in mind that every dental insurance policy differs, meaning the best way to learn whether they cover TMJ therapy will be to call your provider directly. While many insurance companies don’t pay to cover occlusal splints, some may cover a portion of the treatment.

How do I know if I have TMD?

Some of the most common signs of TMD include:

  • Teeth grinding and clenching at night (called bruxism)
  • Clicking and popping sounds when you open and close your mouth
  • Muscle pain that can be felt in the cheeks and neck
  • Chronic migraines and headaches
  • Pain radiating from your jaw joints
  • Swelling on either side of the face
  • Hearing difficulty or ringing ears (tinnitus)
  • Grating sound when you open or close your mouth
  • General jaw tenderness or pain
  • Hearing problems
  • An uncomfortable bite

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, we recommend calling us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Michel.

Are occlusal splints uncomfortable to wear at night?

While your occlusal splint may feel uncomfortable to wear the first few nights, eventually, it will help realign your jaw and provide relief to your TMJs, becoming more comfortable the longer you wear it for.

Are there massages or stretches I can do at home to ease TMJ pain?

If you’re experiencing intense TMJ discomfort, here are a couple of ways to ease it from the comfort of your own home:

  • Locate the muscles in your lower jaw, directly behind your molars, and gently massage them with two or three fingers in a circular motion. You can do this with different areas of the jaw, too.
  • Locate the mandible muscle, which is positioned just beneath your molars on the lower part of your jaw. Gently apply consistent pressure to this area using your index finger.
  • Close your mouth, being sure to not clench your teeth, and rest the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Slowly run the tip of the tongue back across the roof of your mouth, keeping your teeth gently together.

I regularly snore. Does that mean I have sleep apnea?

While snoring is a primary symptom of sleep apnea, chronic snorers don’t automatically suffer from the condition. However, it is likely that snoring leads to lower-quality sleep and tiredness throughout the day. People who snore also have an elevated risk of developing sleep apnea in the future. Thankfully, snorers can use oral appliance therapy to curb the bad habit, improve their health, and prevent spouses from getting too angry as well!

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea negatively affects patients in different ways, and no two cases are exactly the same. That said, the most common symptoms include the following:

  • Choking and gasping throughout the night
  • Chronic daytime exhaustion
  • Noticeable depression and/or mood swings
  • Unexplained weight gain and/or added difficulty when trying to lose weight
  • Regularly waking up with a headache and/or sore throat

How can a dentist treat sleep apnea?

Dentists like Dr. Michel have undergone extensive training in dental sleep medicine in order to design oral appliances that help keep the airway safely unblocked throughout the night. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) primarily occurs in the mouth and throat, and no one knows this area better than your dentist. Better yet, Dr. Michel’s advanced expertise allows him to successfully assess each patient’s airway and collaborate with sleep physicians in order to plan the ideal treatment.

I think I have sleep apnea. What should I do first?

Take the Assessment here on our website! This test is very short and only consists of “yes” or “no” questions; the results will help Dr. Michel assess your risk for sleep apnea. Once you’ve submitted your answers, our team will reach out to you within 24 hours and let you know if we think you should come in for a consultation.

I already use a CPAP machine. Can I get an oral appliance?

If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a physician and are currently undergoing treatment with a CPAP, we recommend first going back to your doctor and asking if oral appliance therapy would be a good alternative. In most instances, only patients with mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can benefit from oral appliance therapy alone; however, combined therapy (using an oral appliance and CPAP together) could also be possible for more severe cases.

Will insurance help pay for my oral appliance?

Most medical insurance plans do offer at least partial coverage for oral appliances that are specifically meant to treat sleep apnea. Yes, this is a little confusing – even though you’re seeing a dentist, you’re not using dental insurance! However, this condition definitely falls under the medical umbrella. Even patients with Medicare can take advantage of their coverage here at Sleep Solutions by Michel Dental. Thankfully, we have the knowledge and experience needed to navigate this system with ease, helping our patients maximize their benefits and save hard-earned money on high-quality care.