Sleep Apnea? Heavy Snoring? Jaw Joint May Be The Culprit.

Posted on Oct 29, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Sleep Apnea has become more familiar to the American population as the reason they endure daytime sleepiness, are more accident prone, gain weight and have a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, depression and high blood pressure. However, few people associate the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ or jaw joint) with breathing problems during sleep.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the airway is restricted or blocked. Apnea, the Greek word for ‘without breath,’ is when a sleeping individual stops breathing, some for up to one minute. This can occur hundreds of times per night.

When the jaw joint is not working properly, during sleep the tongue can collapse and block or reduce a natural intake of oxygen. Heavy snoring, which is often a precursor to Sleep Apnea, can occur for this same reason.

The lack of adequate air during sleep forces the body to work harder to supply enough oxygen. Thus, Sleep Apnea sufferers fail to reach the deep sleep stage necessary for the body to rejuvenate itself. The common fatigue and lack of energy that adults with Sleep Apnea have can also be accompanied by headaches, migraines, clenching, grinding and worn teeth, which are also indications of TMJ Disorder.

If you have – or suspect you have – Sleep Apnea, having your jaw joint examined may reveal an important component to resolving this sometimes deadly problem. As a Periodontal Specialist, I work with many Orthodontists and General Dentists who are highly skilled in resolving TMJ Disorder. Call (828) 274-9440 for a recommendation of a doctor near you.

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