How Orthodontics Can Help TMD Sleep Issues

We may live in a culture that encourages us to be on the go all the time, but there’s no getting around the importance of a solid night’s sleep. Poor sleep habits are linked to an increased risk of developing certain diseases and can also wreak havoc on the way your brain and body function. While the average amount of sleep needed will vary from person to person, most adults require at least seven hours a night to feel their best. Unfortunately, many conditions can cause sleep disruptions. One such condition is temporomandibular disorder, more commonly known as TMD.

Have you been struggling with tiredness or irritability upon waking? If so, TMD could be the culprit. The good news is, we’ve got the solution! Seabreeze Orthodontics provides patients with custom TMD treatments that can address and relieve many of the symptoms associated with it. That means achieving a deeper sleep and feeling more rested in the morning! Let’s take a closer look at what TMD is and how our expert team can treat it. 

Is TMJ the same thing as TMD?

Many people use these two abbreviations interchangeably, including professionals. However, they’re not actually the same thing. TMJ is short for the temporomandibular joint, the hinge points connecting our jawbones to our head. This mobile joint is located directly in front of the ears, rotating and gliding while acting as a powerful hinge at the same time. This mobility gives us the ability to do things like speak, yawn, and chew our food properly.

The TMJ is surrounded by a number of protectors like tendons, muscles, and joint pads. These complex components work well together most of the time, but if they get thrown off course, it can cause a range of symptoms. Enter TMD! These temporomandibular disorders are a group of conditions related to your TMJ and the facial muscles that control its movement.

TMD symptoms can flare up in any of these interconnected parts, including your jaw, ears, nose, face, neck, shoulders, and upper back. They may consist of:

  • pain or tenderness in the jaw, face, or neck
  • persistent headaches
  • backaches
  • clicking, popping or grating sounds in your jaw
  • decreased jaw mobility and trouble opening your mouth fully
  • jaws that get locked in an open or closed position

If you’ve been experiencing any symptoms like these, we encourage you to schedule a complimentary consultation with our Miami Beach office. Dr. Juan will be able to give you a proper diagnosis and discuss the available treatment options with you.

How does TMD affect your sleep?

Many patients with TMD experience discomfort when they sleep. Some studies have shown a link between TMD and sleep apnea, which occurs when the airway becomes obstructed as a person is sleeping. When oxygen is cut off, the brain alerts the heart to keep beating. This can cause the person to gasp or choke for breath. It’s not unusual for this process to repeat hundreds of times per night, interrupting sleep over and over again. Most people won’t be woken by an episode of apnea, but the disruption is still enough to throw the sleep cycle off.

Sleep apnea can be the result of a misaligned jaw joint causing the tongue to block the airway at night. In cases like this, treating TMD can also treat the sleep apnea! Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is another common TMD symptom that can disrupt your sleep. Bruxism occurs when your jaw muscles clench, exerting pressure on the teeth, jaw, and joints. This habit can exacerbate damage to the joints and teeth. It may even wake you from a sound sleep at times.

Certain sleeping positions can make TMD symptoms worse. For example, sleeping on your side without proper head and neck support can put pressure on the jaw joint. This may cause headaches and pain upon waking. If you sleep with your arms above your head, it can increase strain in the shoulder area. Many TMD patients find that sleeping on their back is the best position, since it reduces tension by keeping the spine in a neutral position.  

How can TMD be treated? 

Most people with TMD experience minor symptoms that tend to resolve on their own within a few weeks or months. During this time, symptoms can often be eased by simple at-home treatments. These include:

  • eating softer foods
  • applying ice or moist heat to the affected area
  • avoiding extreme jaw movements like wide yawning
  • taking smaller bites of food
  • alternating chewing on each side of your mouth
  • exploring gentle stress-relief techniques

There are many possible causes for TMD. It can occur due to injury, arthritis, or an imbalance in the nerves, ligaments, and muscles. It’s essential that you receive a proper diagnosis before deciding on a course of action. When you schedule a consultation with Dr. Juan, he’ll conduct a thorough TMJ examination if you’re showing any symptoms. Once he’s pinpointed the cause and diagnosed TMD, he’ll develop a personalized treatment plan to help alleviate your discomfort. 

Our practice prefers to use less invasive treatments whenever possible. These won’t cause any permanent changes to the structure or position of the jaw or teeth. Even patients who experience persistent TMD symptoms won’t need aggressive treatment most of the time! 

Options for TMD may include oral appliances like custom-made mouthguards, sometimes in combination with physical therapy. Trigger point injections or injections with botulinum toxin are another possibility. If your bite needs correcting in order to eliminate TMD symptoms, we may recommend orthodontic treatment with braces or clear aligners. We’ll walk you through all of your choices during your consultation.

How Orthodontics Can Help TMD Sleep Issues

Get a good night’s sleep again with Seabreeze Orthodontics

Are TMD symptoms affecting your daily life by interrupting your sleep? Let our expert team help! We can get to the root of your TMD issues and give you a good night’s sleep again. To find out more, get in touch today to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Juan!