Waking Up in Pain? Why Your TMJ Disorder May Be to Blame

Waking Up in Pain? Why Your TMJ Disorder May Be to Blame

Restore your oral and overall health with TMD treatment.

Sleep is amazing. It helps us feel rested and ready to take on each new day with positivity. Plus there’s just something special about days you can sleep as late as you want. If you’re waking up regularly from pain, however, it can be hard to get restful sleep. Experiencing a lazy day of sleeping in can feel out of reach—but it doesn’t have to! Uncovering the cause of your discomfort can help you get deeper sleep for longer periods of time, improving your positivity, energy levels, and more. Let’s take a look at one of the more common culprits, your TMJ.

Problems with your temporomandibular joint, otherwise known as a TMJ disorder or TMD, can cause many symptoms that impact your sleep and overall health. Thankfully treatments for TMD are usually simple. We’ve gathered useful information on TMD to help you understand how it impacts you and just how much treatment can help.

The effects of TMD aren’t limited to your jaw.

Your jaw might seem like a relatively isolated part of your body, so it’s easy to assume that a temporomandibular joint problem doesn’t affect the rest of your body. But in reality it does because your entire body is intricately connected! Your temporomandibular joints are incredibly complex and function with the help of an equally complex network of nerves, muscles, and other joints. When you think about it, it’s amazing how even small factors work together to help your body function properly! But these connections also mean that TMJ disorder can affect your entire body. Symptoms like jaw pain, difficult or painful chewing, clicking or popping sounds in your jaw, and lockjaw are relatively well-known, localized symptoms of a TMJ disorder. But did you know that muscle tension and inflammation in your jaw can spread to the surrounding tissues and lead to a surprising range of symptoms? Some of these include:

  • Frequent headaches or migraines
  • Earaches
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle soreness
  • Digestive issues
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Insomnia

Thankfully this isn’t all bad news—you can find relief from them too. When you seek a diagnosis for your TMJ disorder and begin working with an excellent dentist like Dr. Alhadef to find the right treatment, you will likely notice an improvement in symptoms that you may not have realized were connected. You might be surprised at how much healthier you begin to feel!

A healthy sleep cycle is vital for your overall health.

With so many wide-ranging (and sometimes painful) symptoms, it’s easy to see how TMJ disorder can mess with your sleep cycle. Even if you go to bed early, these symptoms make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep deeply. And poor sleep leads to other unwelcome effects. Getting enough nightly, high-quality sleep helps reduce stress and improve your mental health. What’s more, sleep plays an essential role in your immune response. Your body releases infection-fighting proteins and antibodies while you sleep, so when you aren’t getting enough, your body can’t fight off illnesses as effectively.

Sleep deprivation also impacts your concentration and memory, making it harder to recall information you already know and learn new information. It also considerably decreases your response time, which can impact your performance at school or work. Plus sleep deprivation can increase your risk of auto accidents, as well as health issues like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. So it’s important to make sure that you’re getting enough sleep every night—and that the sleep you’re getting is high quality! This is where TMJ treatment comes in as it can resolve your symptoms and help you get the sleep you need to stay healthy, happy, and safe.

Bruxism and TMJ disorder can be connected.

TMD and bruxism (clenching or grinding) are often connected. Bruxism doesn’t necessarily lead to TMD on its own, but clenching and grinding your teeth can trigger or exacerbate an existing TMD condition. This can lead to the appearance of TMJ symptoms you’ve never experienced before and make it seem like bruxism is the cause, but it’s often simply just the catalyst. Despite this, bruxism is still a big concern when it comes to your oral health because it can lead to a surprising number of issues. Clenching and grinding your teeth puts them under a lot of pressure. This can cause toothaches, sensitivity, and even chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. Over time this force wears away at your enamel, causing it to look worn and yellow.

Some people clench or grind their teeth while they’re awake, while others do it in their sleep, so it is possible to experience bruxism without realizing it! Regardless, bruxism can interrupt your sleep cycle by waking you up throughout the night. Stress and anxiety are huge factors, but bruxism can also be linked to orthodontic issues and sleep apnea.

Stress is a major trigger for TMJ disorder.

Stress isn’t just a trigger for bruxism—it’s a major trigger for TMD as a whole. After all, when you’re stressed, you’re often tense, and tension can translate to a lot of extra pressure on your jaw. This can then trigger existing TMJ-related issues, such as a misaligned bite, past injury, or joint condition. Managing your stress level can significantly improve your TMD. Thankfully there are many methods you can try to reduce your stress on your own. One of the first steps is often to evaluate your schedule and obligations and limit them wherever possible. It’s okay to say no to some things and save time for yourself.

You can also try stress management tactics like practicing meditation, exercise, or yoga and making time for what you enjoy. This looks different for everyone, but whether you set aside time to paint, read, watch TV, or hang out with friends or family, make sure it’s for at least 30 minutes every day. You might be surprised by how much even taking simple steps like this can relieve your anxiety and, by extension, your TMJ symptoms!

Dental evaluations can keep you healthier and happier by identifying a TMJ disorder.

If you suspect that you have a TMJ disorder, the best option is always to schedule an appointment with your dentist. A diagnosis is the first step to better oral and overall health. Regular dental evaluations help your dentist prevent and treat oral health issues like cavities and gum disease, but they also give them the chance to spot the signs of TMJ disorder early, even if you haven’t noticed many symptoms. Treatment is often relatively simple and can make all the difference in how you feel.

Waking up in pain isn’t fun and can have a lasting impact on your health, but you don’t have to accept it as your new normal! If you think TMJ disorder is the source of your pain, Dr. Alhadef is here to help you find a treatment option that works for you, transforming your daily life in ways you may not expect. Don’t live with TMD any longer. Schedule your appointment with Dr. Alhadef today.

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