An estimated 40 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep conditions. Sleep is critical not only to survive but to function. And not just any amount of sleep, scientists says adults need 7-9 hours of restful sleep per night and children need 9 to 11. During sleep our bodies grow muscle, repair tissue, consolidate memories and information,
Without this consistent, regular rest our bodies and minds begin to suffer. Things like extreme weight gain or loss, chronic diseases, reduced sex drive, increased risk of accidents and even depression have been linked to sleep deprivation both short-term and long-term.
An estimated 22 million people in the United States suffer from sleep apnea, many undiagnosed and even unaware. This is representative of over half of those suffering from sleep disorders as mentioned earlier making it one of the most common causes of sleep disturbances. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is blocked, often by the tongue and soft palate, during sleep. This causes the person to suddenly awaken, sometimes only partly and unconsciously, in order for breathing to resume. This can even occur hundreds of times each night depending on the severity of the condition.
Studies have begun to surface showing connections between TMJ disorders and sleep apnea. The temporomandibular joint is located in front of the ears on each side of the face. It’s muscles, ligaments and cartilage connect the jaw bone to the skull. Many sufferers of sleep apnea have discovered that their jaws may be out of alignment which in turn causes the tongue to block their airway while sleeping. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, effects and can even cause these TMJ disorders and the combined symptoms of sleep apnea and TMJ problems can lead to chronic sleep disturbances and other complications. Dr. Ken Collins, DDS, leading Spokane area cosmetic and neuromuscular dentist says,
“Teeth grinding can cause significant damage to the teeth and jaw. It can cause fractures and cracks and can even break dental fillings. It also causes the enamel to wear away on the surface of the teeth. Many people don’t even realize they are grinding their teeth, especially if this is only occurring during sleep. One of the biggest red flags is waking up regularly with a dull aching headache or migraine. Jaw, cheek and facial soreness or fatigue can also be a sign you’re grinding your teeth when asleep.”
Collins discusses how he determines if jaw alignment may be an issue at his practice,
“Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on the way teeth come together. We use a K7 machine to evaluate the structure of your current bite. This tells us how hard your jaw muscles are working when you open and close your mouth and what’s happening when they are at rest. One of the problems TMJ disorders can cause is muscles in the jaw are never truly at rest. Then, we can use a TENS machine to massage the muscles of the jaw which many find brings immediate relief. When the jaw is out of alignment, we can use Coronoplasty to make small changes to the shape of the teeth to correct the way they fit together. Dental crowns and porcelain veneers can also help reconstruct the teeth to reshape them and realign the jaw. Many people are surprised to find that Botox injections have shown great success in relieving the tension that causes pain in the facial area when TMJ disorder symptoms occur.”
Thanks to advances in medical and dental technology, awareness around the nation is spreading about sleep disorders and the many things that can cause them. Sometimes treating one condition associated with sleep disturbance only solves half the problem. Finding links between ailments like TMJ and sleep apnea have researchers on the right track to helping people all over the world get the sleep they need to live a long, happy and healthy life.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-368-7788