sleep apnea, tmj, cmd

Sleep Apnea and TMJ/ TMD

Every morning, you wake up feeling like you’ve been chewing the same piece of gum for hours on end. Your jaw aches. Your head aches. You want to go back to sleep, but that’s not going to help anything today.   The joint where your mandible meets the rest of your skull is called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. When you start feeling pain in this area, it’s time to call Dr. Agarwal.

Not everyone can agree on the causes of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD.) There are different symptoms that can accompany the discomfort like a clicking or popping jaw, sensitivity, tooth grinding, the inability to open your mouth wide, and snoring. While not every case of TMD is related to snoring, there are several that are. What’s more, Dr. Agarwal can help you address the problem to get a good night’s sleep without the snore!

What Does Breathing Have to Do with Anything?

Taking a breath, whether deep or shallow helps to oxygenate your blood. It stimulates the red blood cells to do their jobs. It helps send signals to your brain, spinal column, and all of your body.  When you’re sleeping, your body still needs to do all those things, but without you being aware of it. Taking a breath is an autonomic function. But for many people, a disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) gets in the way of good sleep.

A patient with sleep apnea will wake up several times over the course of the night in order to start breathing again. This isn’t a conscious rousing. Generally, the brain sends signals to the legs or the jaws that the person needs to wake up.  After flailing and kicking for a few seconds or grinding their teeth for a minute, the person will wake up just enough to start breathing again. But this grinding is one of the contributing factors to TMD.

OSA is often caused by a collapse of soft tissues at the back of your mouth. That’s where we come in!

Visit a Sleep Dentistry Provider

The first thing to do if you think your sleeping trouble is due to sleep apnea is to schedule a sleep study with a doctor of sleep medicine. They can make the recommendations for treatments and facilities, or even arrange a study in your own home. We can refer you to one if our sleep apnea screening suggests that you may have OSA. Once you’ve had a study and diagnosis, Dr. Agarwal can help you decide what to do next.

Seeing a dentist for a sleep problem may seem counterintuitive at first, but when you think about the mechanics of sleep apnea, it makes sense. Your throat closes during an episode of sleep apnea, preventing air from being drawn into the lungs. Dr. Agarwal can provide an oral sleep appliance that keeps your jaw in the correct place, allowing you to breathe like normal.  Since it keeps you breathing, the night grinding and snoring should also cease. Some people are able to give up using their bulky CPAP appliances.

OSA is a serious, threatening medical condition. If you have it or believe you have it, contact your doctor or Dr. Agarwal immediately. After a consult and sleep study, we’ll have you on the road to healthy, quality sleep in no time!


Tarun Agarwal

Dr. Tarun Agarwal, DDS is considered one of the top dentists in the country. He is a recognized speaker, author, and dental leader. He has been featured on CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and News 14 Carolina. Dr. Agarwal has been awarded '40 under 40' Business Leaders by the Triangle Business Journal. He is regularly invited to teach other dentists around the world and recently built a training center within the practice dedicated to sharing his expertise. Most importantly he is a loving husband and dedicated father of three wonderful children. His biggest accolade was being voted 'Best Dad in the World' by 2 of his 3 kids.