Because sleep apnea and TMJ are closely related, it’s possible that sleep apnea treatment can cause or worsen TMJ. At the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, we understand this connection and work hard to ensure optimal fit for our oral appliances. Your sleep apnea appliance can even be fitted to do double-duty to help treat your TMJ.
Is Your Sleep Appliance Properly Fitted?
If your sleep appliance isn’t properly fitted, you may experience:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw stiffness or restricted motion
- Clicking or popping in the jaw
- Wear on your teeth
- Loose or mobile teeth
- Feeling like your teeth don’t fit together properly
- Broken or worn appliance
Not all sleep dentists have the training to understand the complex bite system, nor do they all take into account this complexity when fitting sleep apnea appliances. Problems can also be caused by over-the-counter sleep treatments as well as sleep appliances fitted by someone other than a dentist.
At the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, we understand the intimate connection between TMJ and sleep apnea. We work hard to ensure that oral appliances don’t contribute to bite problems. Instead, the oral appliances we fit will help improve your bite. This will lead to greater comfort not just when you’re wearing the appliance—you’ll feel the difference morning, noon, and night!
Sleep Dentistry and Neuromuscular Dentistry Are Independent Disciplines
Some sleep dentists are thoroughly trained in the full discipline, which should include an understanding of the relationship between the airway and the jaw joints. However, many sleep dentists may have limited training in sleep dentistry which does not include how to properly fit a sleep appliance that doesn’t contribute to TMJ.
Other dentists may not be cautious enough in their approach to sleep apnea treatment. They might not pay attention to the impact that sleep appliances have on the jaw system. Your dentist should take measurements of your bite with and without the sleep apnea appliance in, including a measure of the muscle activity present. This will show whether the oral appliance is really putting your jaw in a healthy position so you can avoid TMJ related to your oral appliance.
CPAP Can Also Cause TMJ Problems
Sometimes, people are urged to try CPAP instead of an oral appliance to avoid potential jaw or bite problems, but CPAP can also contribute to TMJ.
Studies have shown that prolonged use of CPAP masks can cause significant bite changes by compressing the face. The CPAP mask can also push the jaw backward. The airway may be held open by air pressure, but the jaw itself is being further displaced, contributing to jaw pain and other TMJ symptoms. And many CPAP systems have their own mouthpiece, which must be properly fitted to avoid jaw joint problems.
And, of course, even if CPAP doesn’t cause bite problems, it may not help them, either, and it may prevent you from wearing a bite splint to treat your TMJ.
When you are considering sleep apnea treatment, you need to consider the impact it may have on your bite and the health of your temporomandibular joints. If you are looking for a sleep dentist in Detroit who is also trained in neuromuscular dentistry, please call (248) 480-0085 or email the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness today.