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How Sleep Bruxism Causes TMJ Disorders Atlanta, GA

Wayne G. Suway, DDS, MAGD, D.ABDSM

woman woke up lack of sleep

Sleep bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding or clenching during sleep, is a prevalent condition that can significantly impact your oral health. One of the most serious complications arising from sleep bruxism is the development of Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders. At the Atlanta Sleep Apnea Treatment Center, we specialize in addressing these interconnected conditions through advanced dental sleep medicine treatments, including oral appliance therapy.

Sleep bruxism involves involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep. This repetitive motion exerts excessive pressure on the teeth and jaw muscles, leading to various oral health issues. TMJ disorders, on the other hand, refer to a group of conditions affecting the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull. This joint is essential for everyday functions such as chewing, speaking and yawning.

The Link Between Sleep Bruxism and TMJ Disorders

The connection between sleep bruxism and TMJ disorders is well-established. When you grind or clench your teeth at night, the excessive force and strain placed on the temporomandibular joint can lead to inflammation, pain, and dysfunction of the joint. Here’s how bruxism can contribute to TMJ disorders:

  • Muscle Overload: Continuous grinding and clenching strain the muscles around the jaw, leading to muscle fatigue and spasms. This muscle overload can cause pain and discomfort, characteristic of TMJ disorders.
  • Joint Damage: Excessive force from bruxism can damage or displace the cartilage disc in the TMJ, leading to joint noises (clicking or popping), limited jaw movement, and chronic pain.
  • Tooth Wear and Misalignment: Severe bruxism can wear down the teeth, leading to misalignment and an uneven bite. This altered bite can place additional stress on the TMJ, exacerbating the symptoms of TMJ disorders.
  • Inflammation: The constant pressure and movement can cause inflammation in the TMJ, contributing to pain and reduced function.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

TMJ disorders present a variety of symptoms, which can significantly affect your quality of life. Common signs include:

  • Jaw pain or tenderness
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Earaches or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw
  • Difficulty or discomfort while chewing
  • Limited jaw movement or locking

Effective Treatment with Oral Appliance Therapy

At the Atlanta Sleep Apnea Treatment Center, we offer dental sleep medicine treatments, including oral appliance therapy, to address both sleep bruxism and TMJ disorders. Oral appliance therapy involves the use of a custom-fitted device worn during sleep to alleviate the symptoms and underlying causes of these conditions. Oral appliance therapy works by:

  • Jaw Alignment: The oral appliance repositions the jaw into a more favorable position, reducing stress on the TMJ and alleviating muscle tension.
  • Protection: The device acts as a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing grinding and clenching. This protects the teeth from wear and reduces the force exerted on the TMJ.
  • Improved Sleep Quality: By addressing sleep bruxism, oral appliance therapy can improve overall sleep quality, reduce daytime fatigue and enhance overall well-being.
  • Custom Fit: Each oral appliance is custom-made to fit your mouth precisely, ensuring maximum comfort and effectiveness.

Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that avoids the need for surgery or more aggressive interventions. The appliances are easy to use, portable, and require minimal maintenance.

Plus, clinical studies have shown that oral appliance therapy is effective in reducing the symptoms of both bruxism and TMJ disorders, providing significant relief for many patients.

Sleep bruxism and TMJ disorders are closely linked, and addressing one often helps alleviate the other. At the Atlanta Sleep Apnea Treatment Center, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive care for patients suffering from these conditions. Our dental sleep medicine treatments, including oral appliance therapy, offer a proven solution to reduce the impact of bruxism on the TMJ, improve sleep quality and enhance overall health. If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep bruxism or TMJ disorders, contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve a pain-free and restful night’s sleep.


Posted on behalf of Atlanta Sleep Apnea Treatment Center

1820 The Exchange SE, #600
Atlanta, GA 30339

Phone: (678) 401-7615

Mon - Thu: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Closed for lunch: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

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Wayne G. Suway, DDS, MAGD, D.ABDSM
logo Atlanta Sleep Apnea Treatment Center Atlanta, GA

1820 The Exchange SE, #600
Atlanta, GA 30339


Mon - Thu: 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Closed for lunch: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM