Do you frequently experience jaw pain? Are you often tired during the day? Has your partner told you that you snore at night? If yes, it is possible that you are suffering from both TMJ and sleep apnea in Fort Worth. Together, these conditions can decrease your quality of life and endanger your long-term health. Let’s discuss the connection between them and what you may be able to do to find relief from both issues.
Defining TMJ Disorder and Sleep Apnea
TMJ dysfunction, which may also be called TMJ disorder or TMD, can refer to any number of problems that afflict the jaw joint. When the joint is stressed or injured, you may experience multiple symptoms, including jaw pain, facial pain, headaches, difficulty chewing, and more.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a separate condition marked by repeated pauses in breathing throughout the night. It occurs when tissues in the throat hinder the free flow of air.
The Correlation Between TMD and OSA
Studies have found a strong correlation between TMD and OSA. For example, research from 2013 found that men and women with at least two signs/symptoms of OSA were 73% more likely than the general population to experience first-onset TMD. A case-control study even noted that chronic TMD was three times as frequent in individuals with a high likelihood of having OSA.
How Are TMD and Sleep Apnea Connected?
There are several possible explanations for why there is such a strong correlation between OSA and TMD, including:
- Common underlying risk factors. For example, a badly aligned bite can contribute to a narrow airway while simultaneously placing stress on the jaw joint.
- Poor jaw positioning contributes to OSA. Individuals with TMD may have a jaw that rests farther back than is ideal. This positioning can lead to airway problems, especially at night.
- OSA may worsen TMD. OSA causes you to stop breathing at night. Your body goes into panic mode to get you to start taking in oxygen again. These repeated episodes can cause tension in muscles throughout the body, including those surrounding the jaw joint.
TMD is a complex problem, and there is no “one size fits all” solution for it. However, many people have found that sleep apnea treatment both helps them to sleep better and reduces TMD symptoms. This is often the case among individuals whose TMD is caused by muscular tension in the face. Some OSA treatments — particularly those that involve the use of an oral appliance from a dentist — also prevent nighttime teeth grinding, which can cause or worsen TMD.
TMD and OSA are both serious problems. If you suffer from one or both of them, professional treatment may be able to bring you lasting relief.
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Mitch Conditt is an experienced dentist who focuses his practice on both TMD and OSA treatment. If you are suffering from one or both of these problems, he and our team would be pleased to consult with you. Contact our office at 817-527-8500.