Connection Between TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorders and OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), Featuring Dr. Steve Lawson of the TMJ and Sleep Therapy Centre in Winnipeg, Canada
Dr. Steve Lawson says that he cannot treat TMJ pain, or temporomandibular joint, without understanding what's going on at night and managing the airway. For his patients, at the TMJ and Sleep Therapy Centre in Winnipeg, Canada, 70% of their symptoms are a function of what's going on at night. If Dr. Lawson is aware of what's going on while the patient is asleep and why they are clenching their jaw, he can manage these TMJ patients better and more effectively.
Most of the time, the clenching and grinding is from an airway issue, Dr. Lawson says. TMJ patients develop rhythmic muscular activity and Dr. Lawson explains that when the oxygen levels go down, your brain gets alerted that it wants to breath, so it pushes the mandible forward to dilate the airways -- which is exactly what an oral appliance does to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The connection, he adds, is that the clenching and grinding is probably from an airway issue.
Dr. Lawson performs an evaluation to see if a patient is a good candidate for an oral sleep appliance, which includes a jaw evaluation, as the two are completely intermingled.