An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders each year while an additional 20 million experience occasional sleeping problems. If you are one of these individuals, you know how the problem can affect your daily life—it can interfere with work, driving and social activities.
It has also been shown that those who suffer from sleep disorders might also be suffering from a problem directly related to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders (TMD). A disorder in the TMJ can cause pain and discomfort in other parts of the body and symptoms, such as sleep apnea, teeth grinding and tension headaches or migraines. And, when this occurs, it can negatively impact a good night’s sleep.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Studies continue to be conducted showcasing the connection between TMD and sleep disturbances. In many cases, a misaligned jaw joint, or TMJD, is actually to blame for sleep apnea. This is because the tongue’s position is impacted by the alignment of the upper and lower teeth, so when the teeth are misaligned, the tongue can block the airway as you sleep. When this problem occurs, it can cause a person to wake up frequently throughout the night.
What is Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)?
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is also another symptoms of TMD. With a misalignment of the jaw, many people will unconsciously grind or clench their teeth together. As a result, bruxism causes significant damage to your teeth and is something that can be easily corrected with proper care. Due to the force of the jaw, people with severe bruxism can break their dental fillings and/or cause the outer layers of their tooth enamel to wear away, which then exposes the highly sensitive dentin. This extreme jaw muscle tension can also result in complications, such as lockjaw and tension headaches.
Relief from TMD
TMD can potentially be causing your sleep problems. If this is the case, try some of these tips at home:
- Gently stretch your neck throughout the day
- Pay attention to, and improve your posture
- Avoid chewing gum
- Gently massage your jaw muscles
- Commit to a soft diet
While these exercises might help, if your jaws are not properly aligned, it is important to get help. Headaches can become a nuisance but can eventually become incapacitating, making treatment vital for proper daily function.
Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia for more information on TMD and how it might be affecting your sleep.