Consulting for Dental Sleep Medicine and Craniofacial Pain

Let me help you. While you might be out there completing your continuing education courses, what about further guidance while in your office? If you are in search of further insight into implementing dental sleep medicine and/or craniofacial pain in your dental office, I can help. As a dentist who has been in the same spot as you, I want to help you provide your patients with the best services possible since I have been there before. It’s perfectly fine having a little extra help in implementing these advanced services. By contacting me for consulting services, I can help you and your team.

What is Involved in Consulting?

Through consulting, we can focus on the following information to improve the implementation of Dental Sleep Medicine and/or TMD into your office:

  • Identifying and diagnosing patients
  • Examining patients
  • Providing accurate treatment
  • Including your staff as a well rounded team
  • Billing for the office and insurance

In addition to implementing these services into your office, it is important to adopt a marketing strategy. From Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to Social Media Management and other forms of marketing, it is imperative that you take charge of your marketing. While the availability of dental sleep medicine and craniofacial pain in your office is the most important step, you need to attract patients and educate them on these areas, which is where your marketing plan comes into play—we can help with that, too.

As an expert in the areas of dental sleep medicine and craniofacial pain, I welcome you to contact me for consulting information. Through consultations, I can help you and your practice with the implementation of dental sleep medicine and/or craniofacial pain, as well as guiding you in the right direction for marketing and other information. Whether you are a general dentistry office, or you are starting up a specialty practice that focuses on these two areas specifically, contacting me for consulting is important.

There’s a Connection Between Airway, Bruxism and Craniofacial Pain

Think of Airway, Bruxism and Craniofacial Pain. What do these words have in common? From just the words, it looks like they are three completely different terms. And, other than the first letter of each word being ABC, these areas have a lot more in common than you may realize. With advancements in research, we continue to learn more about the connection between sleep apnea (the airway), bruxism and craniofacial pain (TMD). For these reasons, dentists should educate themselves on each area for increased patient care.

Why are the ABCs so Important?

Think about it. What do you know what dental sleep medicine, etiologies of bruxism or craniofacial pain conditions, such as TMD? Odds are you might know little to nothing about each and that’s ok. A majority of dentists know little to nothing about these areas of dental specialty, so you’re not alone. However, because of this, dentists are unable to recognize the risk of sleep apnea, let alone manage patients with oral appliances. Let’s do something about this.

This is the same for craniofacial pain and bruxism. While bruxism may be noticed more often than sleep apnea or craniofacial pain, it is often overlooked. By taking the steps toward a better understanding of the unique connections between the airway, bruxism, craniofacial pain and other conditions, dentists can create endless opportunities for services in diagnosis and treatment options within their practice. Let’s examine the ABCs of advanced dental services…

Airway (Sleep Apnea)

The ‘A’ in the ABCs stands for “Airway”, which is commonly referred to in sleep disordered breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Dental practices are in a unique position to identify patients at risk for conditions involving the airway. Understanding the airway and how it can affect a patient’s sleeping patterns due to sleep apnea and other sleep disordered breathing conditions is vital in maintaining your patients’ health and improving service offerings. It can also help in treating other conditions when there is a clear link available (trust me, there are connections).

Bruxism

Let’s refresh your memory. Bruxism is the gnashing and grinding of teeth that occurs without a functional purpose. When a patient is suffering from bruxism, it can cause a lot of problems (as you know). Whether it is due to a nervous habit, stress or unknowingly grinding teeth at night, bruxism can cause damage to not only a patient’s teeth, but their overall health as well. Due to the breakage of dental restorations from bruxism, tooth damage, induction of temporal headaches and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can occur. From one condition (bruxism), so many other complications can occur, which means we need to take charge and continue our education immediately.

Craniofacial Pain (TMD)

We come full circle with craniofacial pain, as it covers a wide spectrum of symptoms exhibited in many areas of the head and neck. In particular, a majority of craniofacial pain complications can be associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Can you see the pattern? Because of this, an essential part of routine dental examinations for all patients should include an evaluation for TMD, including a patient’s history, clinical examination, and imaging when appropriate.

Connect the Conditions

There appears to be an apparent relationship in some individuals between the airway, bruxism and craniofacial pain. While it might not be found in every patient, there are still some individuals requiring further attention because there is an apparent connection. As a dentist, it is important to understand that clenching or grinding of one’s teeth can be a way for the brain to protect itself from suffocation during sleep–it connects the ABCs.

Each condition might be a sign of deeper complications, but what can you do about it? Educate yourself by completing continuing education courses and attending lectures or seminars. While it might not occur in every case, it is vital that we as dentists understand it for those certain individuals suffering from all three conditions. For more information, please contact my office or visit my lectures page to find the next available educational course for your needs.

Work with Medical Professionals in the Treatment of Craniofacial Pain

From headaches to jaw pain, patients can feel discomfort without knowing that the underlying cause might be dental origins. With an estimated 45 million Americans complaining about headaches each year, which is almost 1 out of every 6 people, it is time to take a stand and complete continuing education as a dentist because you might just be that solution they need for pain relief.

Treating Craniofacial Pain

With such a large portion of the population not getting the right treatment for what are often debilitating disorders, there is an incredible need for dentists who understand the neuroanatomical relationship within the cranio-cervical areaand how to diagnose common pain complaints in the head and neck.

Treating craniofacial pain is a team effort, with the patient’s Dentist, ENT, Neurologist, Physiatrist, Physical Therapist, and Psychiatrist all potentially playing a role in diagnosis and treatment. A dentist must understand what physicians do in a diagnostic workup and treatment and when it’s necessary to refer out in order to truly understand their role and fulfill their duties in patient care and establish referral relationships across various physician specialties.

By learning how to diagnose and treat craniofacial pain, dentists gain a great power to change their patients’ lives. With great power comes great responsibility for the proper diagnosis and management of pain in and around the mouth, face and neck.

Establish a Working Relationship with a Medical Professional

Many patients will find themselves in a neurological, primary care, chiropractic, pain management or an ENT’s office, but that may not always be the best place. For example, undiagnosed TMD may be mistaken for different ailments, as it can often stump many medical practitioners with the vast crossover of symptoms patients experience.

A patient might complain of TMJ pain, but in reality they are suffering from a disease or infection of the ear, nose or throat. It is also common for a patient to complain of ear pain, but have the pain really be related to an affected TMJ. When this occurs, patients might be in the wrong medical office seeking treatment, or the clinician is frustrated that their prescribed therapy based on symptoms has not helped in resolving a patient’s complaints.

Whether it is neurological or sinus related, you want your patients to get the best care available, and that means joining forces with other medical professionals. From neurologists and otolaryngologists to family practitioners, it is important to create a working relationship with each medical practitioner in order to discuss or refer for diagnosis and management of your patients when further assistance is needed.

Whether it is ear, dental or head related, a working relationship with the medical professionals in your community is essential in providing proper treatment for your patients! They will thank you in the end.

Food Tips for Your Patients on Thanksgiving

TMD is a painful condition that can worsen when eating the wrong foods. With the holidays just around the corner that often means there will be lots of different food for your patients to choose from! This is also the time of year where many people will eat more food than they normally eat during the year—and it is often food that they don’t typically eat other times. To help your patients protect their jaws and prevent pain, here is a list of diet changes that might help improve their TMD symptoms this Thanksgiving:

Skip the Crunchy and Chewy

When at the dinner table, there might be a lot of crunchy and chewy foods to choose from this holiday season, but it is important to urge your patients not to do it. Many crunchy foods, such as hard, crusty breads and crackers, can put a lot of strain on a person’s jaw. Additionally, chewy can also worsen TMD pain in patients. This is because chewy foods tend to be sweet, enjoyable treats that might be hard to avoid. While it may be difficult to pass on gum, caramel and gummy candy, it might be a sacrifice patients need to take for improved TMJ health this season.

Take Smaller Bites

Patients might also be tempted to eating everything in sight without chewing it all the way through, but remind them to be patient. Large foods that require opening the mouth wide such as corn-on-the-cob and whole apples can overextend the jaw and ultimately cause pain for a TMD sufferer. Even large sandwiches and burgers can overextend the jaw. Instead, patients should try using a fork and knife to cut food into smaller pieces that are easier to eat.

Choose Vegetables

Lastly, when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner make sure to encourage your patients to say “Yes” to vegetables. However, make sure they choose wisely what veggies to eat. For instance, patients should avoid carrots because they are harder and can hurt their jaw. On the other hand, if the carrots are cooked, then they are soft enough to not hurt their jaw.

When something in the body is causing pain when it moves, it is best to minimize the movement of that body part. However, when it comes to jaw pain it is not that easy to do since we have to eat, and speak. However, patients can limit the amount of movement their jaw makes as to not use the muscles that are causing pain by choosing foods that do not require a lot of chewing, while also avoiding habits that make the muscles work.