Everyone likes to make jokes about snoring. All joking aside, chronic snoring can actually be a sign of a serious health issue: sleep apnea. But is your snoring caused by problems with your TMJ, or is TMJ caused by your snoring?
Sleep apnea, more specifically obstructive sleep apnea, is a condition in which an over-relaxation of the muscles causes a blockage in your throat. This blockage prevents proper airflow, interfering with breathing. Snoring usually accompanies OSA. It is also possible to stop breathing for several seconds during the night.
OSA AND JAW PAIN
Jaw pain is a common side effect of OSA. This is because your muscles relax so much that your jaw is no longer properly aligned. When you have difficulty breathing, your body’s natural response is for your mouth to clamp down in an attempt to prevent the blockage in your throat. This action puts added stress on the muscles of the jaw and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Other side effects of OSA include feeling tired upon waking, headaches, frequently waking up at night, daytime drowsiness.
The TMJ is the joint at which your upper and lower jaws meet, and is responsible for all movements of the jaw. Pain in this joint can be from any number of different factors, including bruxism, facial trauma or misaligned teeth, and makes it difficult to do normal tasks, such as eating or speaking or even just opening your mouth. Symptoms include facial pain, difficulty with oral tasks, headaches or earaches and possibly even snoring.
HOW IS SNORING CAUSED BY YOUR TMJ?
When you have misaligned teeth, it affects the way that your jaw fits together. If your bite is off, it can affect other areas of your mouth, including the soft tissues near the entrance of your throat. Depending upon how the tissues fall, they can block your throat while you sleep, causing snoring.
Snoring, as a result of OSA, can cause TMJ problems just as easily as TMJ problems can cause snoring. No matter which one causes the other, it is important to see your dentist and have your issues properly diagnosed so that you can receive treatment, therefore putting an end to both your snoring and your jaw pain.
Please contact our office if you have any questions about your oral health.