If you suffer from TMJ, it’s likely that it’s also affecting your sleep. It’s also possible that your sleep problems are the cause of TMJ. Over 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders every year while an additional 20 million people experience occasional problems sleeping. Sleep disorders can affect multiple areas of your life like work, driving, and mood. People who suffer from sleep disorders also experience TMJ problems. So, how exactly are sleep problems and TMJ linked? Dr. Kinsey at Palencia Dental in St. Augustine, FL is here to help.

Woman laying in bed with jaw pain, TMJ and Bruxism - affecting her sleep

Sleep Apnea and TMJ

One of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when someone is sleeping and their airway becomes obstructed. When oxygen becomes cut off, the brain alerts the heart to keep beating and the person gasps or chokes for breath. This process can repeat hundreds of times per night, interrupting sleep each time. Although it’s uncommon for people to actually become fully awake during an apnea episode, they awaken just enough to leave their sleep cycle.

Recently studies have declared TMJ as one of the causes of sleep apnea. This is because a misaligned jaw joint usually results in an incorrect tongue position with the tongue blocking the airway at night. In this case, treating TMJ can actually treat sleep apnea.

Bruxism and TMJ

Bruxism is when you grind or clench your teeth when you sleep. It’s unconscious behavior that can cause significant damage to your teeth in addition to your TMJ joint. Although bruxism doesn’t affect your quality of sleep, it can cause you to wake up with a headache, jaw pain and dental problems.

Night Headaches and TMJ

One of the common symptoms of TMJ is night headaches. It’s common for the misaligned bite to strain muscles that mimic a bad migraine. You will oftentimes experience pain in the forehead, the back of the head, or down the neck.

Sleep apnea causes these types of headaches due to the lack of oxygen in the head. Instead of turning to over the counter pain relievers to treat your headaches, it’s a good idea to determine if they are in fact caused by TMJ. If you also experience clicking in your jaw, an off bite, snoring at night, or forward head posture, it’s likely TMJ is the cause of your headaches, and possibly sleep apnea.

Treatment For TMJ and Sleep Problems

Treating your TMJ problems can help you treat sleep apnea and other problems related to sleep. Dr. Kinsey has specialized training in TMJ treatment and is happy to diagnose TMJ and provide you with the best treatment option. If you also believe you have sleep apnea, please make sure to mention it during your appointment. It’s time to start getting a better night of sleep with Dr. Kinsey’s help. Please call Palencia Dental at (904) 826-4343 to schedule an appointment today.