Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a synovial joint that allows for complex jaw motions. It lets you open your mouth (up and down and side to side), chew, and speak.
However, a TMJ joint that’s not lined up can cause pain and dysfunction. You might notice that your jaw is sore and makes clicking noises.
Dr. Hinna Chaudhry knows that TMJ pain can quickly impact her patients’ quality of life. That’s why we diagnose and treat TMJ issues here at Ardsley Dental Spa in Ardsley, New York.
Below, we shed light on one way TMJ pain can affect your quality of life: interfering with your sleep.
Do you have TMJ pain?
When your upper and lower jaws are aligned, it’s easier to chew your food without hearing clicking or popping noises. But when your jaw is misaligned, you may experience:
- Painful clicking
- Popping or grinding sounds
- Difficulty chewing
- Neck and shoulder tension
You may find that TMJ pain can flare up occasionally or be constant. Stress and misaligned jaws can both trigger TMJ pain.
How TMJ dysfunction affects your quality of sleep
When your upper and lower jaws aren’t in their proper places, it can affect sleep in a few ways. Most notably, it can increase your risk of sleep apnea and bruxism.
A misaligned jaw can make your airway smaller, putting you at risk of not getting enough oxygen while you sleep. Decreased oxygen can lead to poor sleep quality and sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can contribute to morning headaches, unrefreshing sleep, and daytime sleepiness.
If you don’t get enough oxygen, your body naturally wakes you up. Many people with sleep apnea report waking up gasping for air. Intense snoring is also common with sleep apnea. All the nightly wake-ups can make you feel less than refreshed in the morning.
Many people with TMJ may also develop bruxism, a condition marked by jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Bruxism tends to occur during stages 1 and 2 of non-REM sleep and can disrupt your rest if the pain and teeth grinding awaken you.
What to do about TMJ pain
The good news is that TMJ pain doesn’t have to keep you from getting the sleep you need. Here at Ardsley Dental Spa, our team can treat the root cause of your sleep problems (TMJ) and the accompanying complications (sleep apnea and bruxism).
Treatment for TMJ dysfunction includes:
- At-home modifications, such as eating soft foods and massaging your jaw
- Wearing a custom-fitted night guard
- Botox® injections
If you have sleep apnea, we may also recommend a special oral appliance that moves your jaw forward when you sleep. There are various types of oral appliances for sleep apnea, but the premise is the same: to open your airway to ensure you get enough oxygen while you sleep.
If a bad bite (malocclusion) causes your TMJ pain, we may recommend Invisalign® clear aligners. Invisalign can correct many bite issues, including overbite and underbite, to alleviate jaw pain and help you sleep better at night.
If you’re tired of TMJ impacting your quality of sleep, call us at 914-236-1617 or request an appointment online to explore your treatment options for TMJ dysfunction, sleep apnea, bruxism, and more.