Settling down to sleep should be a relaxing ritual after a long day. Unfortunately, if you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), turning in for the night may be anything but serene.
Many TMD patients find that their TMD symptoms, such as jaw pain, headaches, and back and neck pain are actually worse at night. Lack of sleep isn’t good for anyone, but for those with TMD, it presents particular challenges. Quality sleep is necessary to help control and cope with chronic pain from TMD and stress that can contribute to symptoms.
One of the most obvious causes of nighttime jaw pain and headaches, as well as lingering pain in the morning, is teeth grinding. Many people that grind and clench at night aren’t aware of the habit – until they wind up with a cracked tooth or serious TMD problems.
Unfortunately, many of the mouth guards available today can actually make you grind or clench even more. While they might save you from a cracked tooth, they won’t do much to help your joint stability or limit the damage of grinding on your jaws. You may be dealing with lingering jaw pain that doesn’t improve despite wearing a mouth guard.
Poor Neck and Back Position = Jaw Problems
Your jaw can be affected by what you sleep on at night – specifically, your mattress and your pillow. A bed that’s too firm, too soft, or has lost its support is often a problem because it can misalign your neck and back, and this misalignment travels up to your jaw. Likewise, a pillow that doesn’t keep your neck straight and supported usually leads to neck and jaw pain.
If your mattress or pillow aren’t supportive of your body’s ideal rest position, you may end up grinding or clenching more, placing strain or pressure on your jaw joint, or simply experiencing more TMD symptoms that seem to get worse at night.
How Nasal Congestion Affects Your Jaw
Many people have indoor or seasonal allergies that bother them at night. This leads to not only a poor night’s sleep, but it stresses the muscles of your jaw. Mouth breathing puts your jaw in an unnatural position, and if it happens regularly, you may start to feel its effects. Jaw pain and stiffness are common in chronic allergy sufferers and mouth breathers.
Likewise, those who snore may also be dealing with nasal congestion and often find that TMD symptoms are particularly bothersome at night. Snoring has another drawback: it has been linked to many other health problems, including heart disease. If you snore, talk with your doctor about how you can treat the problem. Your jaw – and your entire body – will thank you.
Nighttime jaw pain is a sign that something needs attention. If you think your TMD pain is worse at night, discuss your symptoms with the professionals at MedCenter TMJ. Nighttime sleep habits and comfort are the foundation for alleviating jaw pain – and getting good sleep again!