Myth Busters

Myth Busters


Myth: You get TMJ from chewing too much.
Reality: Actually most TMJ conditions come from clenching too much since chewing actually lubricates the TM Joint.
Myth: If your jaw joints hurt, keep your mouth closed so to avoid the pain
Reality: If your jaw hurts, use hot packs and start to stretch the joints by trying to get your mouth open wider. If not successful, see your Dentist.
Myth: TMJ can be cured.
Reality: TMJ is a degenerative condition that can only be managed by reducing the risk factors that are making the condition worse, like over clenching.
Myth: TMJ is a disease. “I have TMJ”.
Reality: Actually TMJ describes a joint called the Temporomandibular Joint. But the term “TMJ” is common to describe a host of medical conditions that relate to the TM Joint.
Myth: TMJ is passed on from one generation to another in families.
Reality: TMJ is not a disease that is passed on in families. However, some of the risk factors for TMJ are passed on both anatomically and by behavior modeling (habits).
Myth: Chewing gum causes TMJ
Reality: Movement of the jaw is always good for the TMJ, so chewing gum is good for the TMJ. But if the TM Joints become sore from clenching, then chewing gum will make it hurt worse. It would be like running a marathon on a sore knee.
Myth: Eating hard foods cause TMJ
Reality: The TM Joints are designed to allow you to chew anything edible, as long as they are healthy. If hard foods cause pain, you should see your Dentist.
Myth: Stress causes night time grinding and clenching.
Reality: Research is showing that grinding and clenching is actually something a person does to keep their airway open at night. 
Myth: TMJ mouth splints will stop clenching
Real: Night time clenching is most often caused by the body trying to keep the airway open. TMJ splints do not stop the clenching, rather protects the TM joints from the clenching by reducing the force of the clench and distributing the forces away from the TM joints.
Myth: “TMJ” is a diagnosis. “I have TMJ!”
Real: “TMJ” is an acronym for “Temporo-Mandibular Joint.” It describes a joint of the body (Actually two joints). It would be like saying “I have knee!” Through time, it has become a accepted description of a basket of symptoms related to the joint and supporting structures, like joint pain, headaches, locking of the jaw, jaw and facial pain. The more accurate term is TMD (Temporo-Mandibular Disorder). As long as we understand each other, makes no difference in the end!
Myth: Changes in the dental bite causes TMJ.
Real: The causes of TMJ symptoms are many. The contribution of bite changes are only associated with how much of the time the teeth are clenched in a 24 hour period. In other words, if the patient never clenches, then the bite is irrelevant. But if the patient is a clencher, then changes in the dental bite can be a major contributing factor. A TMJ will be the best treatment to eliminate the bite as a factor and get down to what is really driving the TMJ symptoms.

Myth: My Dentist caused my TMJ
Real: Dentistry rarely is the cause of TMJ. There are too many causes, and some very complex, to say that a simple dental procedure is the cause of a person’s TMJ. What usually is the case is that the patient has an underlying TMJ problem that was undetected because the system was in a fragile state of adaptation. Along comes a normal dental procedure or minor change in the bite and the system goes into a state of non-adaptation (pain and loss of function). Dentist are trained in dealing with these reactions which will include medications, hot packs and stretches. The Dentist will know when the system malfunctions to the point that needs to be addressed further and make the appropriate referral to a TMJ specialist at the appropriate time. 


Myth: Snoring is no big deal
Reality: Snoring can actually be dangerous. Studies have shown that a loud snorer has a 65% higher chance of stroke. It may also be a sign of sleep apnea.
Myth: I sleep well at night, but I am just tired during the day.
Reality: The most common cause of fatigue is fragmented sleep due to the struggle to breath as the tongue falls back into the airway. A person is not aware this is happening all night long, especially during deep sleep.
Myth: Being tired during the day just comes with age.
Reality: Actually as one ages, muscle tone decreases so the airway support is less. As the airway becomes more collapsible, the body works harder to keep it open at night resulting in fatigue.
Myth: Anxiety is best treated with medication or meditation.
Reality: Many times anxiety can be caused by your brain trying to stay alert, since it is so tired from not getting enough deep sleep. The most common cause of the lack of deep sleep comes from a brain struggling to breath at night.
Myth: CPAP is the only or best treatment for sleep apnea
Reality: Research supports the fact, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that the mandibular advancement oral appliance is just as effective as the CPAP for mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Myth: If my Physician wanted me to have an oral device for sleep apnea, he would get me one.
Reality: Physicians are not trained to make oral appliances, only a Dentist can make one. Care is much better if the Dentist and the Physician can work together.
Myth: You have to learn to live with sleep apnea if I don’t like the CPAP.
Reality: The mandibular advancement oral appliance is just as effective as the CPAP for mild to moderate sleep apnea and the comfort and acceptance far exceeds the CPAP machine.
Myth: Any Dentist can make a snore guard or sleep apnea oral device.
Reality: True that any Dentist is able to make this device, but the State of Texas requires a Dentist to take at least 12 hours of education about Sleep before he is qualified to treat sleep breathing disorders.
Myth: A sleep study is not required to get a snore guard.
Reality: Sleep breathing disorders occur at night without the person being aware, so Texas State law requires a sleep study of some sort (home or in lab) to determine the severity of this condition before treatment. 
Myth: The wrist and other sleep monitors (like the Fitbit ™) can diagnose if I have sleep apnea
Real: Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the airway is obstructed, most often by the tongue as it relaxes back into the throat during sleep. This can not be determined by any outside measuring device like sleep monitors. It can only be determined by measuring airflow out the mouth and/or by measuring blood oxygen (with a wrist pulse oximiter for example) if the obstruction is bad enough to cause a drop in oxygen. These new sleep monitors have become highly sophisticated and they are able to determine if the sleep in interrupted by some event. But what that event is, these monitors can not determine. The event could be apnea, but it could also be pain, restless mind, even a dog in the bed!
Myth: Sleeping on your side cures sleep apnea
Real: In the early stages of the development of sleep apnea, sleeping on ones back causes the tongue to relax directly back into the throat causing the airway obstruction. In these early stages, sleeping on one’s side will cause the tongue to fall to the side instead leaving a small opening remaining in the airway. So while, sleeping on the side helps in early stages of sleep apnea, it does not cure it. For this reasons, at this stage of the disorder, the apnea is called “positional apnea.”
Myth: If you have a bad night sleep, the next day is ruined
Real: The mind and body can function without one night sleep, with little change in ability. But as time goes one, usually in a four night cycle, as sleep is more deprived, the drive to sleep increases until the brain forces one to sleep. But for a single night with poor sleep or lack of sleep, one can function near normal. It is the thought of the poor night sleep that makes the next day miserable. So next time, ignore those thoughts and make it a normal day. Just make sure you focus on getting a good night sleep the following night. 

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