Trouble sleeping? It may be a symptom of TMJ disorder

There could be many reasons behind someone experiencing trouble sleeping. One of the lesser-known culprits is a pain in the TMJ, or the temporomandibular (pronounced, tem-puh-roe-man-DIB-u-lur) joint. With one joint on either side of the jaw, TMJ connects the skull to the jawbone. A trauma or malfunction can cause TMJ disorders, or temporomandibular disorders (TMDs). TMDs are not only painful they are also linked with sleep apnea. The loss of sleep comes with its own set of potential health issues.

If you suffer from TMD, it is important that you take the appropriate steps to cure it. Thus, it is essential to know what are the symptoms that can indicate the presence of TMD.


What causes TMD? / What are the reasons behind TMJ disorder?

A TMJ disorder can occur due to damage to the joint or the cartilage covering the bone or if the joint is not properly aligned. The cause behind the disorder is not always clear, but dentists believe a number of factors can be responsible. These include:

  • Injury
  • Arthritis
  • Dental surgery
  • Regularly grinding or clenching teeth
  • Infection
  • Genetic, hormonal, or environmental causes


What does TMD pain feel like?

There is never a definitive way to self-diagnose any health problem, you need to visit your physician for a reliable diagnosis. At the same time, you must be aware of what symptoms to look out for and when to seek medical advice. Common symptoms of TMD include:

  • Pain or tenderness in the jaw
  • Jaw lock
  • Clicking or popping sound while opening or closing jaws
  • Earache or pain around the ears and eyes
  • Sleeping disorder
  • Buzzing or popping sound in the ears
  • Headache


The link between sleep and TMJ

The pain and stress caused by TMJ disorder can have an adverse effect in falling asleep and enjoying a long, continuous sleep. A disorder of the jaw can disrupt the airways while sleeping, which can result in snoring or temporary choking while sleeping. The blocked airways also mean less oxygen would travel to the brain, which affects the quality of sleep.

Sleeping disorders or sleep apnea can cause various other health issues as well. Less or bad quality sleep will leave you tired all day with low energy. In children, sleep apnea can stunt development. So, it is very important to contact a doctor as soon as you notice the symptoms.



Take the right steps/Treating TMD/Fixing TMD


In most cases, it is possible to treat or control TMJ disorder by self-care and lifestyle changes. Consult a professional to find out which exercises can be beneficial to you. Reducing jaw movements and avoiding tensing or clenching the jaw also helps. It is recommended to consume soft food and avoid chewing gum to reduce stress on the jaw. At times, a hot or cold compress might also help with the pain.

Visit the doctor:

It may not always be possible to completely fix the disorder, but your dentist will suggest the best way forward to manage the symptoms and prevent further deterioration of the joint. If you experience intense pain, over-the-counter pain medication can provide temporary relief. Based on your condition, your dentist can suggest various treatment options, for instance:

  • If the principal cause of the disorder is suspected to be the grinding of teeth, using a mouth guard will help.
  • If you suffer from a degenerative condition, such as osteoarthritis, your dentist may recommend injections.
  • When there is extreme damage to the joint, corrective surgery might be required.


Dangers of leaving TMJ disorders untreated

The pain and symptoms of TMJ disorder can vary in intensity. However mild or severe your problem may be, it is advised to always consult a medical professional to determine the best way to treat the problem and ensure it does not increase.

Leaving the situation untreated can:

  • Worsen the pain
  • Cause or increase damage to the jaw
  • Further restrict jaw and head movements
  • Damage teeth
  • Cause or worsen sleeping disorder


Do you have trouble falling asleep? Do you experience regular pain or tenderness in your jaws? Do you have trouble opening and closing your mouth? If yes, contact Dawson’s dental health specialists today and we will find out the most convenient and suitable treatment for your condition.