TMD or TMJ and Sleep Apnea.
TMD, or “Temporomandibular Dysfunction/Disorder”, is when there’s a problem with the joint connecting your lower jaw to your temple (the “temporomandibular joint”, or TMJ for short). Amongst the main signs of TMD are:
- Morning headaches
- Head and neck pain
- Tooth grinding
- Jaw clicking or scraping
How common is TMJ in the United States?
Disease of the TMJ is a very common issue. As many as one in three adults in America will report having one or more symptoms of TMD in their life. Sometimes the condition gets better on its own. Sometimes it requires one of several treatment plans. In some cases all that can be done is pain management.
However, TMD has also been called “the Great Imposter.” The symptoms of TMD are similar to, and in some cases overlap with, the symptoms of other conditions.
One of these conditions is obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when your airways become blocked while you sleep, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the bloodstream, snoring, and choking. This is generally caused by the soft tissue of the mouth relaxing and collapsing. The constant interruption to your body’s oxygen supply can lead to serious issues.
Symptoms of TMJ and Sleep Apnea. Do I have the condition?
Because the most obvious signs of sleep apnea — snoring and choking — take place while the patient is asleep, it’s very difficult for someone to realize they have the condition. Up to 80% of people with sleep apnea will go undiagnosed.
However, patients with sleep apnea also clench, grind, and flex their jaws while they sleep as they unconsciously try to keep their airways open. This behavior can result in an inflammation of the TMJ, which presents symptoms that are almost identical to TMD.
If you have been diagnosed with TMD but also know you snore at night or suffer from fatigue throughout the day, it’s possible that:
- your symptoms are actually caused by sleep apnea
- sleep apnea is making an existing condition worse
Our sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Samant DDS, is fully qualified and has many years experience treating the disease. We offer a wide range of treatments, from CPAP through to innovative non-intrusive oral appliances.
At Smart Smile Dentistry in Gainesville, FL, we perform complete TMJ checks to assess the health of your joint. Not only will we be able to see if you have TMJ, we can also help determine the cause of the condition. If your TMJ is related to sleep apnea, we can offer a full range of proven sleep apnea treatments to help with your condition.