Temporomandibular Joint Disorder – TMJ and Jaw Pain Relief

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a condition that occurs when your jaw becomes misaligned. As a result, your bite is not in balance and your muscles are strained in their normal resting position. This can lead to a number of problems and painful symptoms. You may have trouble eating, opening your mouth wide, sleeping, and enjoying your daily activities.

The most common TMJ symptoms are:  

  • Facial, neck, and jaw painJaw Point Image
  • Limited jaw mobility
  • Popping or clicking in your jaw joint
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Headaches
  • Tinnitus
  • Uneven or uncomfortable bite

Dr. Sheridan can use the principles of neuromuscular dentistry to help alleviate your symptoms by moving your jawbone into its ideal resting position. The first stage of your TMJ treatment will work to alleviate your pain. This is often accomplished using TENS therapy which consists of low level electrical stimulation that relaxes your jaw, making it easier to find its ideal resting position.

Once your pain has been remedied, Dr. Sheridan will work to find a more permanent solution to your misaligned bite. This may consist of:

  • Customized orthotic mouth guards
  • Orthodontics
  • Dental restorations
  • Surgery


TMJ Symptoms


There can be several symptoms indicating TMJ, many of which can be similar to those caused by other oral and systemic issues. These similarities can cause some people to overlook TMJ as a possible cause, resulting in long-term discomfort and an increased difficulty in future treatment.

Neuromuscular dentist Dr. Sheridan can detect TMJ based both on your symptoms and his evaluations, helping restore alignment to your jaw and relieve TMJ symptoms for good.

Common Symptoms of TMJ

Some symptoms of TMJ will point directly to a misaligned jaw joint. These include

  • Clicking or popping in the jaw
  • Pain, soreness, or tenderness around the jaw
  • Limited jaw mobility or complete lockjaw
  • Swelling around the jaw

Other symptoms of TMJ can be less obvious, but can include:

  • Headaches
  • Earache without infection
  • Neck, shoulder, or back pain
  • Facial asymmetry
  • Facial Pain
  • Tooth and gum sensitivity
  • Sleep Disorders

If you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms, Dr. Sheridan can determine if TMJ is the culprit and customize a TMJ treatment option to address your specific concerns.



Many folks complain of headaches. It’s not that they are a bunch of whiners, in fact I usually bring up the subject. The common thread with most of our patients is that they didn’t realize that there may be a connection between their headaches and their bite. Most folks by now have heard of TMJ and jaw pain being related to a “bad” bite, but few have heard of the association of headaches and what we call malocclusion or “bad bite.”

The jaw joint is complicated. It hinges, like your knee does, but it also comes away from it’s socket to slide forward as when you open really wide. The TMJ can also translate left and right, as it does when you move your chin left and right. 

There are several muscle groups that all work together to make this happen. Surprisingly, these muscles are not just located in the jaws, they are on the side of your head, the back of your head, neck, and even behind your eyes.

If your bite is less than ideal, this complicated TMJ joint, and all the surrounding muscles can actually compensate for the imperfection. Unfortunately, the muscles become overworked in the process and create pain. 

Imagine what would happen to your bicep muscle if you held even a light weight in your hand for 24, or 48 hours without a rest. Your head and neck muscles may have been working to compensate for your bite for years. Imagine the fatigue.

Do the muscles on the side of your head hurts like crazy when you have a headache? The one right on your temple? Well it is part of the group that helps position the lower jaw. 

How about those headaches that feel like they are right behind your eye. There is a muscle behind your eye that is also part of the group of muscles that help compensate for a bad bite. If that becomes fatigued it can hurt and cause a headache. Even the muscles at the back of the head and neck are involved in helping to posture the jaw to compensate for the bad bite.

So how do we figure out if the bite is contributing to your headaches? We test the muscles. There is something called Electromyography which allows us to see the muscles in live action to determine if there is unusual activity when you bite. There is also sonography, which is listening to the joint for uncharacteristic sounds, and also jaw tracings to illustrate the movements of the jaw that are hard to see with just a visual exam. All of these tests get run through a computer and analyzed.

If a bad bite (malocclusion) is contributing or causing the headaches we can make an appliance, or adjust the bite, or replace worn tooth structure. Whatever it takes to allow the muscles to rest. Rested muscles are happy muscles.

TMJ Treatments

Treatment of TMJ will need to be based on your unique needs and the degree of misalignment affecting your jaw. During your TMJ evaluation with Grove City neuromuscular dentist Dr. Sheridan, the treatment option most suited to meet your needs will be determined.

Treating TMJ

Commonly, TMJ treatment is accomplished through little more than muscle relaxation. Using a state-of-the-art TENS unit, Dr. Sheridan can relax the muscles around your jaw to reduce tension, eliminate pain, and provide long-term relief from TMJ.

Not all cases of TMJ can be permanently treated with a TENS unit. Many patients benefit from the use of an oral device such as a splint or mouthguard in addition to TENS massage. With an oral device, your jaw will be gently held in its proper alignment while you sleep. This can help retrain your muscles to hold your jaw in its ideal alignment while also preventing teeth grinding or clenching, a common cause of TMJ.

Other patients may benefit more from full mouth restoration. If your TMJ is the result of a misaligned bite or other dental issues, solutions such as dental implants and dental crowns may be better suited to meet your needs.

Your TMJ treatment will be based on your specific needs. Dr. Sheridan will work with you on an individual basis to provide you with the most effective TMJ treatment available.



TMJ Pain Remedies You Can do for Yourself

  • Eat soft foods.
  • Apply ice packs.
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements.
  • Practice reducing stress and relaxing techniques.
  • Practicing gentle jaw stretching.
  • Applying warm moist heat


Pain medication

For some people with TMJ disorders, short-term use anti-inflammatories or pain medication such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief.

Possible Treatments

Orthotics, or bite guard.

Your dentist may recommend a stabilization orthotic (oral appliance) that helps place the jaw in a position that creates harmony between the jaw muscles, jaw joints and the teeth.

Your dentist may also recommend exercises if appropriate for your particular condition.

The conservative treatments described are useful for temporary relief of pain – they are not cures for TMJ disorders. If symptoms continue over time, tell your dentist

If you have problems with TMJ, be sure to contact us so we can discuss a course of treatment for you.


Neuromuscular dentistry

Neuromuscular dentistry is, simply put, the field of dental medicine that deals with the structures of the head and neck including soft tissues (or muscles), bone, and nerves. It not only involves upper and lower jaw disorders such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), but also, the anatomy and physiology of the patient as a whole.

The Role of Neuromuscular Dentists

The neuromuscular dentist treats a variety of symptoms and disorders involving the jaws and teeth. He understands how the relationship of the muscles, nervous system, joints, the bite, and the biomechanics all relate to the proper functioning of the jaw, and their role in the disease process. Some of the diagnoses that a neuromuscular dentist treats include TMJ disorders, headaches, head and neck pain, jaw disorders such as popping, clicking, and locking, sinus pain, and sleep apnea.

The Benefits of Seeing a Neuromuscular Dentist

When a patient seeks healthcare related to a specific problem, they usually go to a specialist to treat the problem (e.g. a chiropractor is seen for back pain). The field of dentistry is no exception. For a problem with the jaw, there are many benefits of seeing a neuromuscular dentist.

  • They are trained in evaluating and treating the anatomy and physiology of the head and neck as a whole.
  • They have the technology necessary to diagnose, isolate and treat the problems
  • They decrease or eliminate pain completely.
  • They help their patients achieve overall enhanced health.
  • Due to corrections they make, dental restorations last longer.


The field of neuromuscular dentistry is a relatively new one with many distinct advantages for treating problems in the TMJ, or in treating headaches. Their in-depth knowledge of the head and neck allows them to effectively treat and give their patients relief from pain and discomfort. 

The interventions range from wearing an orthotic to position the lower jaw, to orthodontics to correct the disharmony of the bite, to restoring the damage caused from a bad bite with crowns or onlays. Many of the treatments are easily performed and provide a lifetime of relief to the patient.


Do You Drive for a Living? Dismissing Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Have Serious Consequences

truck driver yawning
More than 25 million people in the United States experience sleep apnea, a condition that many don’t take seriously. While some people don’t consider it a serious illness, a new study is showing it can have deadly consequences on the roadways. Continue reading “Do You Drive for a Living? Dismissing Sleep Apnea Treatment Can Have Serious Consequences”

Types of Sleep Apnea Appliances

Man in car yawning

Sleep apnea, which involves breathing that’s interrupted during sleep, is a severe sleep disorder that affects 22 million Americans. Breathing can be interrupted as much as hundreds of time, which causes the brain, as well as other areas of the body, to not receive enough oxygen. One way to treat this sleep disorder is by using CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. This entails using a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask that’s been placed over a person’s nose while sleeping.

But many people find the CPAP therapy too bulky and don’t feel comfortable wearing a mask to bed. Fortunately, there are sleep apnea appliances that can be used effectively in keeping the upper airway passages open, so obstructive sleep apnea is prevented. If you suffer from sleep apnea and find wearing a CPAC mask cumbersome, here’s what you need to know, regarding the two primary types of sleep apnea appliances.

Mandibular Advancement Devices

Although there are several sleep apnea appliances, the two main categories are the mandibular advancement device (MAD) and a tongue retaining device (TRD). A mandibular advancement device, which is the most common one used for treating OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), resembles a mouth guard used by athletes. This dental appliance works by holding the lower jaw (mandible) forward so that a user’s airway is opened.

It fits over the lower and upper dental arches and has hinges, or small adjustable “stops”, that ease the lower jaw forward. As a result, the soft palate and tongue are stabilized. Using a MAD also helps to strengthen the airway as it makes the tongue muscle more active, as well other airway muscles.

Tongue Retaining Device

A TRD is similar to a MAD as they both hold the tongue forward. However, unlike a MAD that moves a user’s jaw forward, a TRD pulls a user’s tongue forward. In other words, a TRD has direct control over the tongue. What’s more, it takes more time to get used to wearing a TRD.

 Considerations and Warnings    

  • Failing to treat sleep apnea can result in failing to perform well at school or work. It can even be fatal if you stop breathing long enough or fall asleep while driving.
  • Untreated sleep apnea can also lead to several health issues, such as stroke, heart failure or heart attacks, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and headaches.
  • “Over-the-counter” or “boil-and-bite” sleep apnea appliances can be found in drug stores and on the internet, but they typically are less effective than custom-made oral appliances.
  • You may be missing our on feeling good again.  The fatigue you are experiencing may not be due to getting older but that your sleep is interupted by sleep apnea and preventing you from getting a proper rest.

To find out more about a sleep apnea appliance, call Sheridan Dental. Besides treating sleep apnea and snoring, we offer a wide range of dental services, such as TMJ treatment, porcelain veneers, neuromuscular dentistry and other treatments. Please contact us.



Can you Spot the Signs of Sleep Apnea?

measuring neck
Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person stops breathing briefly over and over again as they sleep. These sleeping pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur as many as 30 times an hour. During an episode of apnea, your brain becomes starved of oxygen and your body is pulled out of natural deep sleep so that your airway can open and let air in. As a result you end up feeling drowsy and fatigued during waking hours. Your reflexes and concentration are also affected which can increase the risk of accidents.

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  •  Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This occurs due to partial blocking of the airway as a person is sleeping. Due to oxygen deprivation, the brain signals the body to awake partially in order to take a breath. A person may then wake up with a loud gasp, sigh or snort.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: Here, the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing to stimulate air intake causing your breathing to stop and start repeatedly.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea: This is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apneas.

Left untreated, oxygen deprivation and fragmented sleep caused by sleep apnea can result in hypertension, high blood pressure, weight gain, mood and memory problems and heart disease.


Continue reading “Can you Spot the Signs of Sleep Apnea?”

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

man sleeping with mouth open

Snoring is often the first sign that there is an underlying problem. While some people snore on occasion with no cause for alarm, there are others who have a deadly condition that threatens their well being. More than 60% of those who snore have some form of sleep apnea. Maybe your snoring (or your significant other’s snoring) is nothing more that a condition that is irritating to others. The problem is, you can’t tell if you have Sleep Apnea without the help of a professional!


Many people avoid seeking help because they don’t want to wear a CPAP machine. The good news is that if you do have Obstructive Sleep Apnea and it is considered to be mild or mild to moderate, your physician will many times prescribe for you a mouth appliance to treat the condition.


Here are a few of the symptoms


  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness.  When you come home from work and sit down in your chair, do you often fall asleep? When you slow down for a few minutes, do you feel a bit drowsy?  These symptoms can be a sign that your sleep is interrupted by Sleep Apnea.
  • Your partner hears you gasping or holding your breath at night.  The obstruction that causes someone to gasp triggers a response from the brain to come to a higher level of wakefulness in order to take a breath. You may not come completely awake but you will not be getting the restful sleep you need.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Increase resistance to insulin, which is associated with Diabetes.
  • Problems with mental focus and attention.  You don’t need a doctor to tell you that when you are tired your mind isn’t working as well as it could be.  Remembering facts and names are more difficult when you are tired.
  • Difficulty losing weight. Because the balances of the hormones that regulate appetite are affected by lack of sleep, you will find that you are more hungry and drawn towards eating carbohydrates when you suffer from lack of sleep.  Good sleep helps you have more resistance to bad eating habits.
  • Headaches. Morning headache is a common side effect of obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Lack of motivation. It is hard to be excited about life when you are tired.  Of course we expect that as we age we will slow down, but it is nice to know if fatigue is due to a treatable condition like Sleep Apnea.


Here are five reasons you should seek help if you suspect you have Sleep Apnea


  • It’s Life Threatening: This condition is serious because it blocks a person’s airway. A restricted airway causes the person to stop breathing many times during their sleep. Many people have died as a result. Although the brain has mechanisms in place to wake us up, it is possible that if the oxygen levels in the blood get too low, this mechanism is ineffective.


  • Children Also Suffer: Many people think depression is a problem that only affects adults. Children, who present with ADHD, bed-wetting, and stunted growth, may also have sleep apnea. Many times, the sleep apnea that affects children is a direct result of enlarged tonsils.  By removing tonsils, parents have seen immediate reversal of bed-wetting and attention problems in school, such as ADHD.


  • It Causes Cardiovascular Disease: During periods of apnea, the heart does not get proper oxygen. It can cause heart attacks, high blood pressure, and even a stroke.  The repeated effects of holding your breath at night is very stressful to the heart and can double your chances of sudden cardiac death.


  • Many Go Undiagnosed: 1 in 5 Americans suffers from this condition. They can stop breathing anywhere from 5-30 times per hour. If excessive snoring is a problem, it is time Sheridan Dental evaluates the situation. We are trained to screen for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and can help you make an appointment with the correct professional to help you diagnose if there is a problem.


  • Obesity is Often To Blame: Having excessive weight in the body can cause the neck and chest to collapse in on the throat when lying down. A blocked airway causes a person to stop breathing.  We have a simple test to check if you fall into a category that is at risk.  If you are at risk, we will point you in the best direction to get help if needed.



The most important thing to remember is not to ignore the signs and have a professional evaluate your sleep for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.





Do You Need Help to Stop Snoring



megaphone head
Snoring can be annoying or embarrassing, depending on the circumstances, but it can also be dangerous to one’s health.  More and more doctors are advising their patients that it is important that they stop snoring.  

Sleep apnea, one of the most serious sleep disorders, places the person that is snoring at risk for early death.  An individual with sleep apnea can experience sudden drops in his or her levels of blood oxygen which can result in a strained cardiovascular system.  This can lead to heart attacks and strokes.  This is especially true of those that suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.   Even less extreme types of snoring can be related to heart disease, lowered sexual function and a host of other significant problems. The lack of oxygen in the blood can also be a causitve factor in chronic headaches.

Snoring does not just effect the person that snores.  The sleeping partners of people that snore can also suffer adverse effects from their partners’ sleep disorders.  Staying awake at night can result in an increased number of accidents, problems with concentration, heart failure, stroke, diabetes and an entire array of other health and safety issues.  Lack of sleep can also rapidly kill one’s sex drive.

CPAP machines, which deliver constant positive airway pressure, are commonly prescribed snoring remedies, but they do not work for everyone. Each patient is different.  When this is the case, alternate solutions must be devised to help patients stop snoring before their health is seriously damaged.  One such solution is a mouth appliance called the Mandibular Advancement Device.   This device is flexible, easy to use, adjustable and is quite effective.  People with mild or mild to moderate sleep apnea are often prescribed the Mandubular Advancement Device because it is much easier to get used to than a CPAP machine.

If you or a loved one snores frequently, please don’t ignore the warning signs of a potentially dangerous condition of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Call your dentist or doctor and they will refer you to the appropriate Sleep Physician who can guide you through a few easy tests to determine if there is anything to worry about. Call Today!


Sleep Habits hit the Headlines

I know it is not mere coincidence that Sleep Apnea keeps popping up in the news these days. It does seem that the more we talk to our patients here at Sheridan Dental about their sleep, and sleep apnea, the more our patients and my team and I read or hear about something to do with sleep.

Continue reading “Sleep Habits hit the Headlines”