As a young adult you may not have understood or appreciated the power of a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, as people age many find they have a more difficult time falling to sleep and often an even harder time feeling rested in the morning. This can cause them to long for the days when sleep came easy and left them feeling refreshed, but many don’t know what, if anything, can be done to improve their sleep. Fewer still realize that their dentist might be able to help. By treating the symptoms of TMJ and bruxism, and often sleep apnea, your dentist might be able to help you get a more effective night’s sleep, so you can wake feeling like your younger self again.
What’s TMJ Have to Do With Rest?
TMJ, while often associated with “lock jaw” and other jaw pains, can also affect a person’s ability to sleep well and stay focused during the day. In fact, some of the most common symptoms of TMJ are headaches, dizziness and pain through the neck and shoulders. TMJ can also cause or worsen sleep apnea, which can be a dangerous sleeping disorder.
In some cases TMJ is caused by nighttime teeth grinding, known as bruxism, which can make restful sleep even more difficult. And because bruxism involves grinding the teeth only at night, it can make the condition even harder to diagnose and treat, as many patients don’t realize there is a problem until a significant other notices the noise of the teeth grinding, or if they start to develop wear along the teeth’s edges.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ, or know that you’ve struggled with bruxism in the past, sometimes a simple night guard is enough to correct the problem. By custom fitting a tray for you, much like a mouth guard used during many sports, your dentist might be able to position your jaw in a more natural, comfortable position, allowing you to eliminate the teeth grinding and symptoms that often accompany it.
If this doesn’t work, there are alternative, more extensive treatments that might include orthodontic treatment or certain injections that can help to relax the jaw muscles.