How Does TMJ Affect Your Sleep?
Posted on 05/24/2019
Getting a good night’s rest is imperative to proper function each and every day. Patients who struggle with conditions such as TMJ or TMD may experience sleep disruptions due to the pain and discomfort of this chronic problem. At 5 Points Advanced Dentistry, Dr. John G. Imm III provides treatment options to patients in the Upper Arlington, OH area to not only address the TMJ pain but to help patients get the deep, restorative sleep they need to function at their best!
What is TMJ/TMD?
TMJ references the joint that is on each side of the face that hinges the jaw so it can open and close. This joint (also known as the temporomandibular joint) can malfunction, resulting in a chronic condition called TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder. The TMJ is connected to the temporal bones of the skull which are located in front of the ears. When the muscles and joints become problematic, they can make everyday activities painful, such as talking, chewing, yawning, and swallowing. For many patients, this condition can also impact the quality of sleep every night.
Why does TMJ/TMD hurt?
Just like any other muscle or joint in the body, the muscles and joints incorporated into this area of the mouth can become painful when they malfunction. Patients may notice problems that not only cause pain on the joint itself, but that manifests and spreads to other areas of the face and body. When it affects an individual’s sleep, it can also cause patients to experience daytime fatigue and notice changes in their mood, memory, and concentration.
What are the signs and symptoms that the TMJ is malfunctioning?
There are many signs that a condition such as TMJ/TMD is present. Here are just a few of the symptoms of the condition that should be addressed with a dental professional:
- Discomfort and tenderness around the jaw joint, which may extend to the ears, neck, and shoulders
- Locking of the jaw in the open or closed position
- Popping and clicking sounds radiating from the jaw joint while eating, which may or may not be paired with pain and discomfort
- Soreness of the face, especially around the jaw area
- Poor bite alignment caused by shifting of the TMJ
- Swelling and pain on the side of the face around the jaw or ears
Patients experiencing these issues are urged to speak to their primary care physician or their dentist about their concerns to get a proper diagnosis and to discuss treatment options.
What treatment is offered for patients diagnosed with TMJ/TMD?
While severe cases of TMJ/TMD may require jaw surgery, this is often the last resort treatment available. In most cases, patients can speak to their dentist about oral appliance therapy. With this treatment, patients wear a special mouthguard at night while they sleep to help align the jaw correctly and to reduce tension on the teeth caused by clenching and grinding. This saves the natural teeth from unwanted wear and tear that may be caused by coexisting conditions such as bruxism (unconscious clenching and grinding of the teeth).
How do TMJ/TMD conditions affect sleep?
Patients who have been diagnosed with TMJ concerns or TMD may notice a lot of discomfort when they sleep. Certain positions that patients may sleep in can exacerbate the problems and pain that are related to this condition. For example, sleeping on one’s side without proper head and neck support can cause patients to wake up with headaches and pain. The best way for patients with TMJ/TMD to sleep is on their back. This assists in comfort in a variety of ways. Sleeping on the back can:
- Reduce or eliminate the pressure on the jaw joint
- Ensure proper support for the head, neck, and shoulders
- Properly align the body and keep the spine in the neutral position
- Reduce clenching and grinding of the teeth due to bruxism
What can be done to improve sleep when diagnosed with TMJ/TMD?
Patients who have trouble with their TMJ/TMD pain during the night will want to not only assess the way in which they sleep but consider other tips and tricks. Patients should pay close attention to how they sleep. Sleeping on the back is best for proper spine alignment. The use of a pillow with proper head and neck support can ensure that the spine is in a neutral position to reduce tension. Purchasing a mattress that properly supports the body is also important. Patients with TMJ/TMD should also think about the position of their arms when they sleep. Keeping the arms by the side is best for optimum comfort, while arms positioned above the head can increase strain and discomfort in the shoulder area. By following instructions advised by the dentist, patients can reduce TMJ/TMD issues and improve the quality of their sleep.
Speak with a professional dentist today about how to improve your sleep with TMJ.
If you live in the Upper Arlington, OH area and have been diagnosed with a condition such as TMJ/TMD, Dr. John G. Imm III encourages you to book a dental visit at 5 Points Advanced Dentistry. His practice is here to assist patients with their dental conditions and find solutions for improving their overall quality of life with effective treatment options. The practice is located at 3380 Tremont Road and is always accepting new patients and families. Call 614-451-5435 to get started learning more about the treatment and management of TMJ/TMD concerns.