When it comes to finding relief from TMJ, many dental professionals focus on helping their patients manage stress, decrease inflammation, and prevent grinding while sleeping at night. These are standard recommendations that can definitely be helpful. But there’s one path to recovery that’s often undiscussed: realigning your bite.
Unlike what some may think, misalignment is not uncommon. In fact, some studies show that approximately 65% of adults have a misaligned bite. Causes can be genetic, environmental, or a combination of both. Genetics play a role in the shaping of our facial bones and characteristics from birth, and oftentimes misalignment is hereditary. Environmental factors regarding lifestyle such as thumb sucking, tongue thrusting, and mouth injuries can also play a role in causing a misalignment of your bite. Some cases are more serious than others; however, all cases of misalignment are important to address.
A properly aligned bite is essential for overall oral health. Misaligned bites can cause headaches, migraines, teeth grinding, and other pain or discomfort. Most importantly, misaligned bites compromise the quality of your sleep. Because your jaw isn’t sitting in its proper place, it’s infringing on your airway, which means less oxygen is getting through to your brain. Decreased oxygen will eventually lead to poor sleep quality and other health issues like sleep apnea, headaches, and possibly even an inability to lose weight.
What is really happening at night is that your body is not getting enough oxygen, and instead of getting the restful sleep you need, your body is fighting itself all night. The misalignment of your bite leads to a smaller airway which means less oxygen can flow through. The result of which includes waking up tired and in a bad mood, headaches, or a dry mouth. Because of this misalignment, many with TMJ also deal with clenching, grinding, and muscle tension in their jaws. While clenching, grinding and muscle tension are all symptoms of TMJ, triggered by stress, those symptoms only highlight a bite that is already off. A misaligned jaw is actually the root problem—one that has been there all along, you just didn’t know it.
And that is also why night guards don’t work for fixing your sleep if you suffer from TMJ. While nightguards can be useful in preventing grinding or clenching of your teeth, they don’t address the bite, muscle, or airway. That is only fixing a symptom of the problem, not the actual problem itself. To really solve the issue, the core problem—a misaligned bite—must be addressed.
That’s why we at TMJ+ focus on diagnosing the root issue—your misaligned bite—and we look at the big picture, taking into account your jaw structure, facial muscles and airway to see how they’re working together. Our holistic approach for TMJ treatment includes focusing on your overall health including, but not limited to, smaller airways caused by misalignment. If you suffer from TMJ and also have been noticing decreasing sleep quality, then it’s essential to consider if your bite or jaw alignment is encroaching on your airway. Fix your alignment and the rest will follow. Call us today for your free consultation to become one step closer to better alignment, better sleep, and a healthier you!
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