Is your TMD and Obstructed Sleep Apnea Related?

Woman covering her ears with pillow while man is snoring
In the past, it was not thought to connect obstructive sleep apnea with temporomandibular disorders (TMD), but scientists and healthcare professionals are have come to realize there may be a link between the two. In many cases these two conditions may have the same underlying cause. 

Temporomandibular disorders are disorders that can develop as a result of improper occlusion between the teeth and jaw, and all the muscles surrounding the jaw in that section of the face. These disorders can include teeth grinding, facial area inflammation, jaws which get stuck, and clicking or popping sounds. People afflicted by TMD may find it difficult to chew or feel pain and discomfort when doing so.

The link between obstructive sleep apnea and TMD 

The connection between obstructive sleep apnea and TMD is becoming more and more apparent, as the epidemic of misaligned jaws and dental occlusions increase. It has been determined that neither of these conditions occurred prior to the Industrial Revolution.  The reason they are so prevalent now is largely because many children are not breast-fed. Breast feeding is a tremendous aid to the development of the upper jaw, and since most babies receive either none or too little of this care, that development is lacking. 

These individuals will frequently have under-developed upper jaws, narrow nasal passages, and teeth which are either crooked, misaligned, or over-crowded. When the upper jaw fails to develop appropriately, the lower jaw is impacted as well, and the child begins life with a set of problems that will likely not be overcome for years, if at all. 

With the lower jaw being restricted, it affects the proper development of the teeth, and when the teeth don’t fit together properly, it causes the jaw to slide back abnormally. This in turn, restricts breathing and results in either TMD or sleep apnea, or both. The problem has grown so prevalent in society today, that experts now believe a majority of people on medications for ADD/ADHD, hypertension and diabetes are actually oxygen-starved individuals who never had a chance for proper jaw development and good oral health.

Treatments Available 

If you or a loved one suffers from TMD or Sleep Apnea, we can determine and treat the underlying cause.  At the Breathing and Sleep Center, we offer a number of non-surgical treatments to grow the airway and increase oxygen intake while you sleep.  Contact us today to learn more.