Poor sleep can be caused by mental stress or physical problems. Pain is a common reason for interrupted sleep, especially headaches, shoulder pain or back pain. One of the most overlooked triggers for headaches and spinal pain is TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder is a jaw problem that can be caused by physical stress to the jaw, or misalignment of the teeth.
Understanding TMJ disorder
Your temporomandibular joints are located between your lower jaw and your ear. They allow your jaws to move. These joints are cushioned by soft discs of tissue that allow them to move smoothly and without pain.
As we get older, these discs sometimes become worn. Direct injury or joint problems like arthritis can also cause the TM joints to become painful. The problem with TMJ pain is that it is tied up in a complex nerve system that supplies sensation to your entire head and face.
Because of this, pain signals from your jaws can sometimes be reinterpreted as headache, facial pain or even spinal pain that can be sent down your back. This is how TMJ disorder can cause a variety of painful symptoms that may be mistaken for something else.
How your jaws can affect sleep
Your mouth can affect how you sleep, especially if you snore. Snoring can be a symptom of a breathing related sleep disorder like sleep apnea. The sound of snoring is a vibration of tissues in the throat as air is passing through. It usually indicates a blockage of air.
People who are “mouth breathers” or people with misaligned teeth or TMJ symptoms may snore because of the way their jaws are positioned when they sleep.
Sleep disorder treatment from a dentist?
Correcting jaw position and alleviating the symptoms of TMJ disorder can also solve sleep problems. The most common sleep disorder treatment from a dentist is the fitting and design of a special mouth guard, called a splint, which you wear while you sleep.
The splint gently guides your jaws into the correct position so that air passes through freely. The splint is custom fit and comfortable, but it can make a vast difference in your breathing and eliminate pain so you can sleep comfortably.
Get help for you sleep problem
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or if you have other TMJ symptoms such as headache, neck or shoulder pain, difficulty using your jaws or general facial pain, a dental exam could determine if your pain and poor sleep have a dental cause. Call us now for an appointment so that we can examine your mouth and start working towards a solution.