Sleep Apnea and TMJ

What is

Sleep Apnea and TMJ

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common medical problem that is underdiagnosed. If you snore and have high blood pressure or excessive daytime sleepiness- it may be time to see your doctor or dentist for more information.
man sleeping in bed

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the periodic cessation of airflow while sleeping due to airway constriction. Airway obstruction does not allow for adequate airflow to the brain and body, and this, in turn, causes health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Sleep apnea and airway restriction can cause severe dental problems. Sleep bruxism which refers to grinding while you are sleeping is associated to sleep disorder breathing. Grinding and clenching is activated by the brain and are uncontrollable. The consequences can be severe dental wear (short teeth), fractured teeth, broken restorations and TMJ pain. Your dentist plays a vital role in the detection of possible obstructive sleep apnea. We screen all our patients for OSA and if we think you may have sleep apnea, we will refer you to the Sleep Clinic for an assessment by a Sleep Physician. An overnight sleep test is covered by MSP and is the best method to diagnose sleep disorders.

Dental Appliances For Sleep Apnea

Oral appliances are a viable treatment option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. They work to reduce airway constriction by moving the lower jaw forward which in turn moves the base of the tongue forward and opens the airway for improved breathing, reduced snoring, and apnea during sleep. Oral appliances are highly effective (80-90%) in treating primary snoring. The appliance tends to be more effective for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, although we have had success treating cases of severe apnea. Dr. Dhaliwal uses the MATRx system to confirm the effectiveness of an oral appliance – the MATRx is a system used by the Dentist and Sleep Physician, it is a temporary appliance that measures the forward movement required to reduce the apnea events. If the temporary appliance shows a reduction of apnea, then we will move forward with a permanent appliance. Dr. Dhaliwal has extensive training in the management of Sleep Disorder Breathing. She uses a few different types of sleep appliances. The appliances are small and comfortable.


TMJ pain is characterized by joint pain, joint sounds, and sore muscles. TMJ pain can be a consequence of sleep apnea. This is because patients who have Sleep Disorders Breathing tend to clench and grind their teeth. Sore muscles, sore teeth and headaches are common symptoms of OSA. Daytime clenching and grinding can also be a cause of joint pain and sore muscles. Daytime bruxism is associated with stress and anxiety. If you are suffering from headaches, sore teeth, and sore muscles you may need an assessment to determine the cause of your pain.



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