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Oral Medicine

Temporomandibular disorders

A temporomandibular disorder can sometimes be referred to as a jaw sprain. This means you may have either a sore jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) or jaw muscles (muscles of mastication) or both.

Treatment of this condition involves as a routine, non-invasive treatment that is designed to address aggravating causes. This might involve teaching you some practical strategies during the day to help your sore jaw and some simple jaw exercises.The treatment may also involve the use of a custom made grinding splint (occlusal splint) for tooth grinding (bruxism) or tooth clenching.

Not all patients require an occlusal splint.

The need for such a dental device will be explained to you at the first visit after a diagnosis has been made.
An occlusal splint is designed to reduce the amount of work your jaw does at night. This device does not stop you tooth grinding, because as humans, many times we may clench teeth or grind our teeth at night. The aim of the occlusal splint is to protect your teeth and may also reduce any pain or jaw stiffness you experience in the morning.

Jaw/facial pain

Oral Medicine Specialists also specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of Oral-Facial pain, which is not caused by the teeth. The type of pain may include neuralgia (most common form is trigeminal neuralgia) or burning mouth syndrome.

Our Oral Medicine Specialist will, if they feel it is required, involve other medical or dental specialists to best treat the oral or facial pain.

A referral is required from your dentist or doctor to see an Oral Medicine Specialist, in order to ensure that the more common causes of jaw/facial pain such as a decayed or abscessed tooth is excluded.

Sleep apnoea and snoring

Snoring in Australia has been a common household occurrence for as long as anyone can remember. We all know of someone who snores or has trouble with sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea and quite often pass it off as a way of life. Little do we realise that snoring can be a warning sign that your body is not getting enough oxygen while sleeping.

Many partners will wear ear plugs to muffle the sound of snoring or try all kinds of home remedies to stop snoring. In some cases, people who suffer from sleep apnoea and snoring will try to fix the problem themselves by purchasing anti-snoring equipment such as anti-snoring spray, nose strips, snoring pillows, anti-snoring rings, or expensive cpap machines without consulting a medical professional first. This can often lead to many people wasting money on something that might stop the snoring sound but not cure the problem. Many anti-snoring devices can also make you uncomfortable and therefore make it harder to sleep than before.

Snoring occurs when the muscles of the airway relax too much during sleep and vibrate (creating noise) when air we breathe passes in and out. Most people will snore at some time, however loud or chronic snoring can disrupt sleep-quality and disturb others. Particularly when loud, it is often associated with other sleep-related breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

One of the most common treatments involves the making of a custom dental device. This holds the patient’s mandible (lower jaw) forward and thereby holding the tongue forward and the soft palate to a lesser degree, to mechanically prevent the collapse of the airway during sleep. This helps a patient sleeps well and to experience the proper REM (Rapid Eye Movement) form of sleep, which is critical to feeling refreshed on awakening in the morning. This custom dental device is tailored to the patient’s individual needs and requirements unlike generic mouthguards and other shelf goods that are designed for a generic use.
Common causes of snoring
The human body can be exposed to a large number of life changing situations that can cause you to have trouble sleeping at night. Our Oral Medicine Specialist will take a more medical approach to finding the cause and thus finding the correct treatment for you.

Some common causes of snoring can include:

  • Allergies

  • Eating too much at night

  • Nasal congestion

  • Deformity of the nose

  • Consumption of alcohol close to bed-time, especially if the amount is large

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Pregnancy

  • Swelling of the muscular part of the roof of the mouth

  • Swollen adenoids or tonsils, especially in children

  • Medications, including sleeping tablets

  • Sleep position – sleeping on your back may cause your throat muscles and tongue to relax; the tongue is then more likely to fall back and compress the airway, causing snoring or making snoring louder.

An overnight sleep study can be performed to assess the nature and severity of snoring, and to check for other sleep-disorders that often accompany snoring, especially obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA).

The most appropriate treatment for snoring varies according to the severity of snoring, presence of sleep apnoea, age, body-weight, degree of daytime sleepiness, alcohol-consumption, medical history and the anatomy of the upper airway. A Sleep Physician is a doctor who specialises in treating patients with snoring and other sleep-disorders, and who is qualified to help sufferers make an informed decision about which treatment is the most appropriate.

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