The surprising connection between breathing problems and your jaw joint

The connection between breathing and your jaw joints

Dr. Shapira Blog, Sleep, TMJ 12 Comments

The surprising connection between breathing and your jaw joints

Breathing problems plague millions of people, and nighttime breathing disturbances are particularly difficult to deal with. If you aren’t breathing properly, it can be hard to sleep, and, even if you do sleep, interrupted breathing may cause problems you are not even aware of. It could even cause problems with your jaws, and leading to painful headaches and other symptoms.

How are your jaws are connected to your breathing?

Your jaws are responsible for opening your mouth so that you can eat, speak – and breathe. When nighttime sleep is interrupted by nasal congestion from a cold or allergies, your jaws need to keep the air passageways open so that you can breathe through your mouth. If this situation continues or happens frequently, the connected system of your jaws and air passageways can become disordered.

Breathing problems can cause jaw pain

If you develop jaw problems related to your breathing, you may begin to experience symptoms of TMJ disorder. These symptoms may start as pain in your jaws but can extend to pain in your face and your head. You may experience:

  • headaches that you mistake for migraines
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • back pain.

TMJ can even cause symptoms involving your hearing and vision, like ringing in the ears or floaters in your field of vision.

Ease the pressure

The key to easing jaw pain and keeping your air passageways open through the night is correct jaw positioning. Dental treatment can accomplish this in one of two ways.

  1. If your teeth are healthy and you have a good bite, you can experience better breathing at night and relief from TMJ symptoms with a dental appliance called a splint. A splint is a mouthpiece that is custom fit to you. When you wear it, your jaws are gently guided into optimum position for free breathing. A splint can be used to treat sleep apnea or to relieve jaw pressure and ease the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
  2. If your problems are caused by a bad bite, orthodontic treatment to correct your bite can offer permanent relief from symptoms.

Chicago dentist Dr Ira Shapira is equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify the source of your problem and help you to make a decision on treatment options. Call us now to set up a consultation appointment to discuss your breathing problems and determine if TMJ treatment could help.

The surprising connection between childhood behavioral disorders and sleep disordered breathing

Chicago Childhood Behavioral Problems

Dr. Shapira Blog, Sleep, Sleep Problems, Snoring 0 Comments

The surprising connection between childhood behavioral disorders and sleep disordered breathing

Do you have a child with a chronic snoring problem? Or do they have frequent pauses in their breathing or wake up gasping for air? Are they always tired or not well rested when waking in the morning? Do they have difficulty concentrating for more than a few minutes? Have they also been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD? If any of this sounds familiar, it may help you to know that there is a surprising connection between sleep disorders in children and common childhood behavioral disorders.

What’s causing your child to snore?

Children with large tonsils or adenoids, TMJ and smaller airways are prone to sleep disorders. Whatever the cause, however, snoring is not normal sleep behavior, and if your child is suffering from sleep apnea or chronic snoring, they are not just losing a little sleep. Left undiagnosed and untreated, these disorders can affect both the emotional well-being and overall physical health of your child.

How is snoring linked to certain behavioral disorders?

Children suffering from fatigue due to a sleep disorder may present with symptoms that are identical to behavioral disorders like ADD or ADHD. This may lead to a misdiagnosis and a subsequent prescription with medications, like Ritalin. Unfortunately, these children may not be helped with medication and so they continue to suffer from poor sleep accompanied by:

  • Daytime exhaustion
  • Chronic snoring, accompanied by apnea
  • Restless sleep
  • Frequent bedwetting
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Acting out and irritability

What can you do to help your child?

If your child has a chronic snoring problem or has been diagnosed with some other sleep disorder, it is a good idea to schedule a consultation with your dentist. At your child’s appointment, you should expect that your dentist will complete a thorough clinical examination to help rule out whether the cause is actually due to a dental issue. This will also help your dentist to determine the best treatment for your child. Treatment options include non-invasive dental orthotics to help ensure your child’s airway remains open, allowing them to enjoy healthy, uninterrupted sleep.

Learn more

If you would like to learn more about sleep disorders in children, please schedule a consultation with Chicago dentist, consider Dr. Ira Shapira of Think Better Life.

Could Chicago dental treatment resolve back pain?

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Back pain can have a detrimental effect on your ability to work, relax, sleep and function in all aspects of life

Could dental treatment resolve Chicago back pain? Interestingly, back pain is not always caused by a problem in your back. It might surprise you to learn that your teeth can actually cause back pain.

The jaws, head, neck and spine are all connected, and pain often travels from its source to other parts of the body by way of nerve pathways. It might never occur to you to see a dentist about back pain, but if you’ve tried to find relief everywhere else and you’re still in pain, dental treatment might be the solution.

The spinal column and pain

The spinal column is composed of four sections. The cervical spine at the top has to hold up your head, which weighs around 10 pounds. Under normal circumstances the cervical spine should have no trouble doing this, but if something is off, like you head tilting unnaturally due to pain, it can be too much for your spine to bear and the result can be pain in your neck and down your back. Chronic headaches or neck pain can start a chain reaction of pain down your spine.

Misaligned teeth and the damage they can cause

Human jaws were designed to function with properly aligned teeth. If your teeth are not in alignment, your jaws have to work harder every time you chew or speak. This workout on your jaws can cause TMJ disorder, which is when the temporomandibular joints that allow jaw movement stop operating smoothly and cause pain and friction.

A TMJ disorder can send pain signals to your head, neck, shoulders and down your spine. Without treatment, you may fall into the habit of holding your head at the wrong angle or adjusting your posture to alleviate pain. The habit of poor posture can make you back pain worse.

TMJ treatment to relieve pain at the source

Pain can be treated with medications, but to resolve pain for the long term, the source of the problem must be discovered and treated. TMJ treatment from a dentist can guide your teeth into proper alignment to alleviate the pressure on your jaws. By eliminating the pain at the source, the chain reaction of pain down your spine can be halted.

Know the symptoms of TMJ

The most obvious TMJ symptom is pain in the jaws, but many symptoms of the disorder may not seem to be related to your jaws at all. Chronic headaches, facial pain, visual floaters and ringing in the ears can all be symptoms of TMJ.

Learn more

If you have back pain and have found no relief, or if you have back pain accompanied by TMJ symptoms, call your Chicago dentist for a consultation appointment. A discussion of your symptoms and an exam can determine if you have TMJ and if a dental treatment could bring you relief.




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Trouble sleeping Chicago

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Having trouble sleeping? Your Chicago airway could be keeping you awake

Having trouble sleeping? Your Chicago airway could be keeping you awakeMany people have trouble sleeping and blame it on anything from their lifestyle to the quality of their mattress. The truth is many people who suffer from poor sleep may be suffering from a sleep disorder and not realize it. People who have sleep apnea may not even realize that they aren’t sleeping well.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person to literally stop breathing while they sleep because of a blockage of their air passageways. The stoppage of breathing (apnea) happens quickly and breathing is quickly resumed, all while the person is in such a state of near sleep that they often do not realize what has happened.

Sleep does stop along with breathing and in the morning a feeling of tiredness is usually present. A sleep apnea sufferer who is in bed for 8 hours a night is actually being robbed of much sleep.

What are the symptoms?

Snoring is one of the telltale signs of sleep apnea. The sound is made by air as it is trying to get past the tissue in the back of the throat that is blocking it. Sleep apnea is more common in middle aged people and those who are overweight. Men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women., but some sleep apnea sufferers have no noticeable symptoms.

If you know you snore and feel fatigued during the day even though you believe you get enough hours of sleep every night, you could have sleep apnea.

How common is sleep apnea?

According to the American Sleep Apnea Foundation and the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects about 18 million Americans, making it as common as Type 2 diabetes. Although sleep apnea is more common in men over 40, even children be impacted.

Sleep apnea can be treated

The most common sleep apnea treatment is the use of a machine called CPAP that forces air into your mouth and nose. For some people a less cumbersome and more portable alternative treatment from a dentist can be an effective treatment option. Dental appliances are mouthpieces that are custom made to fit and gently keep the mouth and jaws positioned so that air can freely pass through the airway.

Are your teeth behind your sleep disorder?

The only way sleep apnea can be diagnosed is with a sleep study conducted by a sleep specialist. Today it is possible to undergo a sleep study at home. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea you can seek treatment from a doctor or from a dentist.

If you have trouble sleeping or feel tired when you wake up, have difficulty concentrating or feel fatigued during the day, or if you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, call your Chicago dentist to discuss how your teeth and jaw position could be related to your sleep problems.




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Poor Chicago sleep can cause trouble concentrating

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Having trouble concentrating, Chicago? Poor sleep could be the cause

Having trouble concentrating, Chicago? Poor sleep could be the causeMillions of people are not getting enough sleep. Our busy lifestyles sometimes make the recommended average of 8 hours a night impossible. But there is more to good sleep than simply the number of hours you sleep. Continuous deep sleep is the key to recharging your body and feeling refreshed when you wake up and carrying that energy through the entire day.

Eight hours a night of restless, interrupted sleep is not healthy, and many people may be experiencing this without even realizing it. If you suffer from fatigue, trouble concentrating or a feeling of being tired all the time, you might have a sleep disorder.

We’re talking about sleep apnea

One of the most common sleep disorders, and one that often goes undiagnosed, is sleep apnea. Someone with this condition may think they sleep all night, but in reality they’ve awoken very briefly multiple times a night. This occurs because of a blockage of the air passageways that causes the person to literally stop breathing.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, you may wake up hundreds of times every night to catch your breath, then go back to sleep. This can cause you to wake up in the morning feeling tired, wondering why because you believe you slept all night.

What causes sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is caused by tissues in the back of the throat that block the flow of air. Sometimes the tongue itself can fall back and cause the blockage. A telltale sign of sleep apnea is heavy snoring.

Snoring is the sound of the vibration of the tissues as air is trying to get through. Being male, over 40 and being overweight make you more prone to sleep apnea, but it can affect anyone. People with jaw problems, crooked teeth or a misaligned bite may be at higher risk.

Sleep apnea can be dangerous

Sleep apnea symptoms include chronic fatigue, headaches and difficulty concentrating. Poor concentration can lead to relationship problems, problems at work and an inability to make rational decisions. One of the biggest dangers of poor sleep is the possibility of making poor decisions that involve safety risks. When you are always tired and have trouble thinking and concentrating, you can put your relationships, your job and quite possibly your personal safety at risk.

Luckily there are treatment options

If you have trouble concentrating, fatigue or a general feeling of tiredness most of the time, you could have sleep apnea. There are several treatment options for this condition that can let you have a good night’s sleep, every night, which can greatly improve the quality of your life. Surprisingly, your Chicago dentist may be able to help you with a dental solution.

Don’t let poor sleep put your safety, your job and your health at risk. Contact us for a consultation appointment to discuss the options for putting an end to poor sleep.




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3 ways to find Chicago headache and migraine relief

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3 ways to find Chicago headache and migraine relief

3 ways to find Chicago headache / migraine relief Anyone who has ever suffered the occasional severe headache or chronic migraine knows what it means to want fast, effective relief, along with the prevention of painful recurrences. Obtaining temporary relief often seems a more attainable goal to patients seemingly stuck in a never-ending cycle of pain, but there is hope. Here are 3 ways to find chronic headache/migraine relief, including those related to a TMJ disorder.

1. SPG Blocks

A SPHENOPALATINE GANGLION (SPG) block offers a needle-free approach to severe and chronic migraine pain. Essentially, an SPG is a local anesthetic that works by blocking the underlying causes to your headaches. In five minutes or less your dentist can administer this anesthetic by inserting a cotton tipped catheter into your nose. This method often provides relief that last from several hours to a couple of days.

2. Orthotics

Orthotics are custom-fitted dental appliances that provide a temporary solution to a misaligned jaw. This appliance initially helps your jaw muscles to relax and heal, and then it helps your dentist to find the natural resting position for your jaw. This not only provides temporary relief from TMJ headache symptoms, but it also helps to prepare the jaw for a more permanent solution.

3. Full Mouth Reconstruction

A full mouth reconstruction takes your entire jaw and dental structure into consideration. This approach to providing dental treatment for TMJ, as well as headache/migraine pain, often involves multiple individual procedures to correct any specific dental issues that are causing your imbalanced bite.

This treatment, while not a quick solution, is carefully planned to provide a more permanent result. Procedures may include:

  • braces
  • dental crowns
  • veneers
  • bridges
  • dental bonding
  • implants

The longterm goal is total correction of your bite and jaw alignment. When your bite and jaw are properly balanced and aligned, your jaw muscles can relax and heal. In turn, this helps to resolve your TMJ disorder, along with the accompanying painful symptoms.

Where can you learn more?

Contact Dr. Ira Shapirato arrange for a consultation in the Chicago, IL area. Using his expertise as a Physiologic Dentist, he will first do a thorough examination of your jaw and dental structure to help determine the source of your pain. This detailed information will help Dr Shapira devise a personalized treatment plan to help resolve your TMJ, along with your headache/migraine pain.




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Frequent Chicago headaches and migraines

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A surprising cause of frequent Chicago headaches and migraines

A surprising cause of frequent Chicago headaches and migraines We feel migraines and headaches when nerves send signals to tell us we have head pain. Some headaches are caused by stress, but migraines involve complicated issues with nerves.

It can be difficult to distinguish between a stress headache and a migraine, and the cause of headaches can sometimes be a reaction to a problem in another part of the body. Problems with the teeth and jaws is a common cause of headaches that is often overlooked.

Complex nerves and pain

The nerves in the head and face are complex and include the trigeminal nerve, which is located in the brain and supplies sensation to the head, including headaches. The trigeminal nerve also sends sensations to the teeth and jaws, and it controls the muscles used for chewing.

Because of the complex work the trigeminal nerve has to do, pain signals can sometimes get crossed. A problem with the teeth and jaws can trigger headache pain or even sensations in the eyes or ears due to the trigeminal nerve.

TMJ disorder 101

Temporomandibular joint or TMJ disorder is a jaw problem that frequently causes headaches and other facial pain. The jaws can be strained by injury or stress, such as stress that comes from overwork or is caused by a misaligned bite. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • headaches
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • ringing in the ears
  • vision problems or “floaters”
  • pain extending into the back or other parts of the body

Dental treatment for headaches

If you have TMJ disorder that is caused by a misaligned bite or other problems with crooked, broken or missing teeth, having these dental problems treated could provide relief from headaches and other TMJ symptoms.

If your teeth are straight, there are treatments that use the principles of physiologic dentistry that could help.

  • Orthotics, the use of a custom-fit mouthguard, can relieve jaw stress and ease TMJ symptoms
  • Other treatments like nerve blocks can stop pain and keep it away for long periods of time

Find a solution for your pain

A Chicago physiologic dentist is one that specializes in the connection between the nerves, mouth and jaws, and diagnosing and treating TMJ disorder.

If you have frequent migraines and headaches, facial pain, vision or hearing problems like floaters or ear ringing, or any other symptoms in your head, teeth or face, call for a consultation appointment to talk about physiologic dentistry and how it may be able to help.




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Ways to Relieve Muscle Pain in Chicago

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4 ways a Chicago dentist could help to relieve your muscle pain

TMJ disorder, misaligned bite, TMJ treatment, Chicago TMD dentistYour dentist may not be the first person you think of calling when you are experiencing muscle pain, but if you aren’t getting relief from anything that’s been prescribed by your doctor or chiropractor, a visit to a dentist might be the way to relieve muscle pain. Sometimes muscular pain is related to your temporomandibular joints, which are the joints that provide movement to your jaws. When something goes wrong with these joints, you can experience painful symptoms like headaches, facial pain, and muscle pain. There are several dental treatments that could provide relief.

1. Orthotics

If you are diagnosed with TMJ disorder, the goal for treatment is to get your jaws into proper position to relieve stress. The most common treatment for TMJ disorder is called orthotics. This is the use of a custom-fit mouthpiece or oral appliance that you wear when you are sleeping or whenever you can during the day.

While you are wearing the mouthpiece, your jaws are positioned for optimum comfort. Headaches and muscle pain from TMJ disorder are triggered by nerves that sense pain in the jaws and send pain signals to other parts of your head or body. Relieving the pressure on your jaws by wearing an oral appliance can stop muscle pain.

2. Orthodontics

If you have a misaligned bite, a permanent correction with orthodontics may provide permanent relief from TMJ symptoms. Many bite problems can be corrected with aligners, which are clear, comfortable and have a shorter treatment time than braces. In some cases braces are necessary, especially if your teeth need to be moved vertically.

3. Teeth restorations

Missing teeth or broken teeth can interfere with chewing and put excess stress on your jaws. Restorations to fix broken teeth can be accomplished with dental bonding or crowns. Missing teeth can be replaced with bridges, partial dentures or implants. Teeth restorations can be combined with other treatments such as orthodontics or cosmetic procedures for a full mouth reconstruction.

4. Trigger point injections

When pain in your jaws is triggering pain in other parts of your head or your body, blocking the nerve triggers can be an effective TMJ treatment. Trigger point injections can bring long-lasting pain relief and can be repeated as needed.

Learn more

If you are searching for a solution to relieve muscle pain, call your Chicago dentist and schedule a consultation. Your dentist can help you learn more  about how dentistry can treat headaches and muscle aches and perform an examination to determine if your teeth and jaws might hold the key to relieving your pain.




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Physiologic dental TMJ/TMD treatment in Illinois

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Physiologic dental TMJ/TMD treatment in Illinois

TMJ symproms, TMJ treatment, TMJ causes, orthotics, westminster dentistTemporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ) is a chronic condition that involves the jaw joints and causes painful symptoms in the head, neck and shoulders. It can be caused by many factors, and it is often overlooked as the cause of headaches, migraines and even vision or hearing problems.
Physiologic dentistry is the branch of dentistry that is involved in diagnosing and treating TMD. If you have been searching for a solution to headache pain or other symptoms in your head and neck, you might be able to find TMD treatment in Illinois from a physiologic dentist.

Causes of head pain

TMJ causes range from a natural wearing down of the tissue that keeps the temporomandibular joints from operating smoothly to crooked teeth causing more pressure on your jaws than they are designed to handle. Injury to the jaws or mouth can also cause symptoms of TMJ/TMD.

While not all headaches are caused by TMJ, very often the jaws or the teeth are involved when head pain is chronic. The nerves that supply sensation to the head, face and neck are part of a complex system that can cause pain triggers in areas that are not directly affected by the problem, for example, jaw pain can be misinterpreted as a headache, and even vision or hearing issues like floaters or ringing in the ears can be caused by mixed up signals from somewhere else nearby.

Symptoms of TMJ

TMJ symptoms include:

  • headaches
  • facial pain
  • sore jaws
  • popping sounds when opening the mouth
  • a feeling of stiff jaws or difficulty when opening the mouth
  • ear ringing
  • “floaters” in your field of vision
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain.

The symptoms often interfere with sleep and can result in fatigue, irritability, work problems and relationship problems.

TMJ treatment

The most common form of treatment for TMJ/TMD is a dental appliance, which is a mouthpiece that is custom fitted by a dentist. This method of treatment is called orthotics. The mouthpiece gently positions the teeth and jaws for optimum stress relief, which can alleviate the pain and other symptoms of TMJ.

When crooked teeth or missing teeth are the cause of jaw stress, restoring the teeth or having them straightened may result in permanent relief from the symptoms of TMJ. Various treatment methods could be combined if necessary for a full mouth reconstruction to restore and position your teeth for optimum functioning.

Learn more

If you are interested in TMD treatment in Illinois, schedule a consultation appointment with your Illinois dentist. Improving your teeth and your smile could be the answer to relieving your pain.




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Chicago muscle pain and tension

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An unlikely cause of your Chicago muscle pain and tension

 bad bite;  muscle pain, spasms, tingling, or stiffness; restore teeth; dental treatment,Chicago dentistWhen you experience muscle pain and tension, you probably think back to activities you have been involved in that may have strained your muscles. If nothing seems to add up, it may be because you are feeling pain in muscles that are actually distant from the origin of the pain. This is called referred pain. Muscle spasms, tingling or stiffness in the neck and shoulders often originates in other areas. The causes of upper body pain and headaches could be neurological or dental in origin.

Myofascial pain syndrome

Myofascial pain disorder or syndrome (MPD) is a chronic pain disorder in which you feel pain usually in the head, neck, shoulders, back and chest that is triggered by muscles in other parts of the body. Pressure on certain parts of muscles triggers pain in other areas; usually the upper body and the head, and the pain can range from mild to severe.

Temporomandibular joint disorder

Chicago TMJ or TMD is a disorder of the jaws that results from too much pressure on the jaws from chewing, swallowing or other jaw movements. TMJ is often caused by a bad bite, crooked teeth or missing teeth. TMJ can cause headaches and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

What do MPD and TMJ have in common?

Both of these conditions can trigger headaches and pain in the face, neck and shoulders. While TMJ is actually a disorder involving the jaw joints and MPD involves pain triggers in other areas of the body, the upper body and head tend to be where the most pain in felt in both disorders. TMD is characterized by referred pain, when jaw pain triggers pain in the head or face that is along the same nerve pathways.

Diagnosing muscle pain causes

Diagnosing disorders that cause muscle pain and headaches can be complicated by the phenomenon of referred pain. A physiologic dentist can examine the teeth and jaws for signs of TMJ disorder that could be causing pain. Pain-relieving treatments for MPD may also offer relief for TMJ symptoms, but, in the case of a TMJ diagnosis, specific dental treatment may be beneficial. Treatment to straighten or restore teeth can relieve pressure on the jaws and alleviate pain.

Learn more

If you are experiencing muscle pain and have been unable to find relief, call your Chicago dentist for an appointment to talk about physiologic dentistry. The connection between your jaws, muscles and nerves could be the key to finding a solution to your pain.




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