Did you know that only 58% of people visit their dentist at least once a year? We need to do more to make sure our patients are visiting us more than just once a year. Making matters worse, 40% of people who regularly visit their dentist have bruxism. And of those who grind their teeth, 80% are unaware they are doing it.
While this condition can occasionally occur without causing severe damage, others can experience severe harm to their teeth. To add to this, those who suffer from teeth grinding also face the possibility of dental problems and sleep disorders. One complication is temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Here is what to know about TMD and its connection with sleep apnea.
How is TMD connected to sleep apnea?
About 75% of people with TMD have signs that suggest a sleep breathing disorder, such as sleep apnea. A narrow upper arch of teeth is 90% predictive of OSA and a retruded chin is 70% predictive of OSA. In other words, teeth grinding and TMD can affect more than just the jaw–it can be an underlying cause for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.
When TMD is present, it is possible for the jaw to move and for it to become misaligned, which affects the bite and general size of the mouth. This change in size can result in the inability of the mouth to properly accommodate the tongue. When less space is available, the tendency is for the tongue to fall to the back of the mouth, which, in turn, creates a blockage in the air pathway. This obstruction then leads to episodes of pauses in breathing or shallow breathing from sleep apnea.
To learn more about TMD and the connection with sleep apnea, feel free to contact my office or attend an upcoming lecture.