TMJ disorder and sleep apnea are often interrelated. While some patients experience one condition and not the other, many experience symptoms of both. In fact, having one of these conditions can lead to the other.
Here’s a closer look at TMJ disorder and sleep apnea:
TMJ Disorder: TMJ disorder can cause many symptoms, including jaw joint pain, dull pain in and around the ears, difficulty chewing, facial pain, clicking of the jaws, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth. It can also result in teeth grinding and clenching, a condition known as bruxism.
This serious sleep disorder is characterized by repeatedly stopping and starting breathing during sleep. It results from the muscles at the back of the throat collapsing, blocking the upper airway and preventing oxygen from reaching the lungs. Sleep apnea symptoms include chronic loud snoring, waking up gasping for breath, morning headaches, waking up with a dry mouth, and nighttime teeth grinding. Patients often feel sleep-deprived and experience chronic fatigue. Sleep apnea left untreated can lead to a host of health problems.
TMJ disorder often results from having crooked teeth or misaligned temporomandibular joints. At Austin Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry, we treat the root of the problem to relieve your discomfort. Our fully personalized treatment protocols may include Invisalign orthodontic treatment or oral appliance therapy.
Orthodontic treatment helps relieve TMJ disorder symptoms by straightening your teeth and correcting problems with the bite, so your teeth fit together when you close your mouth. A TMJ appliance, on the other hand, keeps the teeth in a healthy position and separates the upper and lower teeth so you can’t clench or grind in your sleep. Oral appliance therapy is highly effective in relieving the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
Dr. Madeleine may recommend a sleep study to diagnose your condition. Traditionally, sleep doctors prescribe a continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP machine to treat people with sleep apnea. That involves blowing a steady stream of pressurized air through a CPAP mask to open up the airways and prevent any breathing stoppages during sleep.
Some patients find CPAP machines cumbersome and do better with oral appliance therapy. That may involve using a device that looks like a mouthguard called a mandibular advancement device to keep the jaw in a forward position and maintain an open airway. Another option is a splint-like device called a soft tissue repositioning oral appliance, which keeps the tongue in place to keep the airway open. Dr. Madeleine will work with you to determine the best sleep apnea treatment option for your unique needs.
Visit Austin Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry to learn more about treating TMJ disorder and sleep apnea. We look forward to working alongside you to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Contact our Dripping Springs office to schedule your appointment today!