Although sleep apnea is most commonly associated with troublesome adenoids, there is ample evidence to suggest that jaw disorders can be just as much to blame for impaired nighttime breathing. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull. Unique among all of the body’s joints for its incredible range of motion, the TMJ is highly prone to physical wear and malfunction. This collection of problems is commonly grouped under the name temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
TMD can be characterized by a number of issues and symptoms. One common result is damage to the cartilage that lines the joint. This not only causes pain, but also damages the joint in a way that prevents it from fitting together and moving properly. The deterioration can loosen the connection between the two bones and lead to a serious health condition known as sleep apnea.
During sleep, this loosening can cause the jaw to sag or hang slack, preventing the tongue from resting in its normal position. Oftentimes, the tongue is forced to retract toward the throat, obstructing normal breathing. Even if the tongue is able to maintain a favorable position, a misaligned jaw can limit the airway.
When a person’s oxygen levels are reduced at night, the heart must work harder to pump sufficient amounts to the body. This overly active state has numerous consequences and can often result in fatigue even after a long night’s sleep. The reduced oxygen levels can also cause headaches, particularly in the morning. Needless to say, many sleep apnea patients can see tremendous benefits from a thorough TMJ analysis.
At Charlotte Headache Center, we are able to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, TMD, chronic headaches, migraines and related ailments. Make an appointment with us now by calling 704-540-5850 or use the contact form on this page.