The Connection Between TMJ and Sleep Apnea

The Connection Between TMJ and Sleep Apnea

Do you experience jaw discomfort and also have trouble sleeping through the night? The jaw pain might be the result of a TMJ disorder, and this may be what’s causing your sleep issues. Read on to learn about the connection between your TMJ and sleep apnea as well as what you can do to alleviate the issue.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. It occurs when the airway collapses or becomes blocked. It’s more common in men and among those who are older or overweight. Some common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

Breathing through the mouth

  • Excessive daytime tiredness
  • Snoring or breathing loudly
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia

What’s TMJ Disorder?

Also called Temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ syndrome, this disorder is characterized by pain and issues moving the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Clicking and locking of the jaw joint
  • Pain in the face, ear, jaw, or mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headaches
  • Toothache

The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and TMJ Disorders

Roughly 43% of TMJ patients have problems sleeping with sleep apnea being especially common. When the airway becomes blocked, the body automatically moves the lower jaw forward in an attempt to reopen it.  Since sleep apnea episodes can occur several times throughout the night, the TMJ is constantly being moved, resulting in a lot of stress and tension. This can cause you to wake up feeling exhausted and with consistent jaw pain.

Additionally, TMJ disorder can be a side effect of factors that contribute to sleep apnea. For example, TMJ issues may be linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, a disease characterized by sleep abnormalities, pain, and other symptoms made worse by exertion. It can also be caused by jaw misalignment, which blocks the airway while you sleep. These issues make sleep apnea worse, so it’s important to find the root cause of both your TMJ issues and sleep apnea so they can be treated effectively.

How To Improve TMJ Disorder and Sleep Apnea

Sometimes, TMJ disorders will go away on their own. The same can’t be said for sleep apnea. Luckily, your dentist in Austin can address both this and your TMJ issues. They may be able to treat both of these conditions with oral appliances that are customized depending on your needs. These devices can be used to adjust the jaw joint to help it find a more comfortable resting position while also preventing the soft tissues in your mouth from blocking the airway.

Living with chronic TMJ issues and sleep apnea is challenging, so reach out to your dentist today to have these issues treated. Before you know it, you’ll be sleeping soundly and pain-free!

About the Author

If you’re suffering from TMJ issues or sleep apnea and live in the Austin area, Eaddy Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry can help. They offer treatments that will lessen discomfort and help you sleep through the night without issue. If you’re ready to schedule an appointment or have questions about how Eaddy Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry can help with your sleep apnea or TMJ disorder, call their office at (512) 263-4252 or visit their website for more information.

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