How TMJ and sleep apnea are related

TMJ charlotte headache center nc

When you wake up in the morning, do you ever find yourself wondering whether you actually slept at all? Do you feel as though you are spending your day in a fog-like state? Do you feel tired and lethargic from the start of the day all the way to the end? Many people know that sleep apnea causes disturbed sleep, but few people recognize the connection between the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — the “hinge” that connects the jaw to the skull — and nighttime breathing problems.

The connection between Sleep Apnea and the TMJ

You might ask yourself how your TMJ could be connected to your breathing passageways. Before we can explore that further, you have to understand the problem behind sleep apnea. It is a serious disorder that causes the patient’s breathing to be interrupted while he or she sleeps.

This happens because the airway is being restricted or blocked. Those who suffer from untreated sleep apnea will stop breathing consistently throughout their nighttime slumber —  sometimes hundreds of times throughout the night. Oftentimes, these people have no clue that they suffer from sleep apnea, but they certainly notice the problems that are directly related to it.

The problem with the tongue

The TMJ is a complex joint with an unprecedented range of motion for eating and talking. Unfortunately, this remarkable ability for movement also makes the TMJ prone to dysfunction. In many cases, it can become loose and allow the jaw to hang slack. Our tongues are attached to our jaw, so in these cases the tongue won’t rest where it naturally should. If it collapses toward the back of the mouth, it can wholly or partially block the flow of air. This blockage is the reason sleep apnea sufferers are known for being loud snorers.

Since sleep apnea causes the body to work much harder to provide enough oxygen, sufferers are never able to get into the deep sleep stage required for rest and repair. This explains why patients with sleep apnea have problems with constant tiredness or, due to the lack of oxygen, experience chronic headaches and even migraines.

Unlike my health care professionals, Dr. Jared Ward at Fort Collins Headache Center effectively treats this form of sleep apnea by addressing the root cause: the condition of the TMJ. If you suffer from sleep apnea and haven’t been able to find relief through previous means, contact the Fort Collins Headache Center. In less than 20 minutes, an evaluation exam will reveal whether you’re a candidate for our breakthrough, FDA-approved TruDenta treatment.

To schedule your evaluation, call us at 970-627-8517 or use the contact form on this page.

Our goal is to make you smile!