Scroll Top

Understanding The Link Between Sleep & TMJ

Understanding the Link Between Sleep and TMJ

In the realm of healthcare, the intricate connection between sleep and overall well-being continues to garner attention. Particularly, in the field of dentistry, the relationship between sleep disorders and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction has emerged as a significant area of study. As research delves deeper, it becomes evident that addressing both sleep quality and TMJ issues concurrently can lead to improved patient outcomes. In this blog, we will explore this symbiotic relationship and shed light on innovative solutions offered by Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a leading expert in TMJ treatment and sleep disorders.

Understanding the Relationship

The temporomandibular joint, responsible for facilitating jaw movement, can be susceptible to various dysfunctions, commonly referred to as TMJ disorders. These disorders encompass a range of conditions causing pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Interestingly, recent studies have uncovered a bidirectional relationship between TMJ disorders and sleep disturbances.

Studies indicate that patients suffering from TMJ-related issues often report experiencing poorer quality of sleep. This connection is not surprising considering the discomfort and pain associated with TMJ disorders, which can interfere with one’s ability to fall asleep and maintain restful sleep throughout the night. Moreover, poor sleep quality has been linked to exacerbating TMJ symptoms, leading to a vicious cycle of discomfort and sleep disturbances.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to note that the impact of sleep on TMJ disorders may extend beyond mere exacerbation of symptoms. Some research suggests that in certain cases, poor sleep patterns may precede the onset of TMJ-related symptoms. This underscores the intricate interplay between sleep and TMJ health, highlighting the importance of addressing both aspects comprehensively in patient care.

Consequences of Poor Sleep and TMJ Dysfunction

The repercussions of untreated sleep disturbances and TMJ disorders extend beyond mere discomfort. Poor sleep quality can have far-reaching implications on one’s overall health and quality of life. Headaches, often experienced by individuals with TMJ dysfunction, can be exacerbated by inadequate sleep, further impairing daily functioning and productivity.

Moreover, musculoskeletal pain, a hallmark symptom of TMJ disorders, can intensify with disrupted sleep patterns. Chronic pain conditions associated with TMJ dysfunction, such as jaw pain and facial muscle tension, can significantly diminish one’s quality of life, hindering activities of daily living and impacting mental well-being.

What Solutions Exist to Manage Your Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

Luckily, there are a number of treatment strategies available for your snoring and/or sleep apnea. By gaining knowledge on each type of treatment and with the help of your provider, you will easily be able to choose what suits your needs the best. The most popular treatments include oral appliances and the CPAP machine. Some others are jaw surgery, implantable neuro-stimulators and positional retraining.

A CPAP machine opens the airway by delivering constant and steady air pressure in your throat. Although a CPAP device can be useful, many people tend to complain about leaky masks, stuffy noses, dry mouth and at times, trouble falling asleep due to bothersome noises. As a result, they feel an oral appliance is an easier option for them.

Oral Sleep Appliances/Mandibular Advancement Devices Advantages

The key difference between oral appliances and the CPAP machine is that they tend to be more comfortable and convenient. In contrast to CPAP machines, an oral appliance allows you to experience ideal airflow while breathing:

  • Without air being pushed down your throat

  • No annoying air leaks at the sides of the mask

  • No hose that confines you to one sleep position

  • No need for removal and reattachment of the device while using the bathroom.  This allows you more easily to fall back asleep.

  • No need for an electrical outlet

  • No loud noises emitted

  • Convenient for travel and vacation

  • No compression of your TMJ/jaw joints

What’s the Best Type of Oral Sleep Appliance? Do All Appliances Work the Same Way?

Thankfully, there are different types of oral sleep appliances on the market tailored towards each patient and their needs. Dr. Nojan will examine your teeth, mouth and jaw to determine which appliance would be most suitable for you. We offer a wide variety of oral sleep appliances currently available on the market including:

  • Dorsal fin appliances (manufactured by Somnomed® and Whole You™)

  • Respire Pink Micro

  • Respire Blue Series

  • Herbst Appliances

  • EMA®

  • 3-D printed appliances → Panthera

  • Lamberg™

  • Prosomnus®

Is an Oral Appliance Equally Effective to a CPAP?

The short answer is, yes! As of 2015, the joint guidelines by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) were updated to include oral appliances as an acceptable first line treatment for all levels of sleep apnea – including severe sleep apnea. This has been a great piece of news to people with severe sleep apnea because they too are good candidates for an oral appliance.

Oral Appliance Advantages

  • Easier for traveling – portable, small and no need to be checked in on flights

  • No air leaks causing you to wake up

  • Better for individuals suffering from claustrophobia

  • Fully customizable, as each device is individually fitted

  • No hose that confines you to one sleep position

  • No need for removal and reattachment of the device while using the bathroom, this allows you to fall back asleep easily

  • No need for an electrical outlet

  • No loud noises emitted by the CPAP machine

  • No compression of your TMJ/jaw joints and suitable for some TMJ conditions

Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari and Innovative Solutions

Amidst the complex interplay between sleep and TMJ health, individuals seek comprehensive solutions tailored to their unique needs. Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari, a distinguished TMJ specialist, offers a holistic approach to addressing both sleep disorders and TMJ dysfunction concurrently.

Dr. Nojan understands the profound impact of sleep quality on TMJ health and vice versa. Leveraging his expertise in both fields, he provides patients with innovative treatment options aimed at alleviating symptoms and improving overall well-being. One such solution offered by Dr. Nojan is the utilization of oral sleep appliances, also known as Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs).

MADs are custom-made oral devices designed to treat sleep apnea by repositioning the lower jaw and tongue to maintain an open airway during sleep. However, these devices offer dual benefits by also addressing TMJ-related issues. By stabilizing the jaw and reducing clenching or grinding, MADs can alleviate TMJ pain and improve jaw function while simultaneously promoting restful sleep.

Dr. Nojan’s approach underscores the importance of personalized care and multidisciplinary collaboration in managing complex health conditions like sleep disorders and TMJ dysfunction. By integrating advanced dental techniques with a deep understanding of sleep medicine, he empowers patients to reclaim their health and vitality.


In conclusion, the intricate relationship between sleep and TMJ health underscores the need for comprehensive care approaches that address both aspects concurrently. Poor sleep quality can exacerbate TMJ symptoms, while TMJ dysfunction can disrupt sleep patterns, creating a detrimental cycle of discomfort and sleep disturbances. However, solutions exist, and experts like Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari offer innovative treatments tailored to individual needs.

Through his expertise in TMJ treatment and sleep disorders, Dr. Nojan provides patients with holistic solutions, such as oral sleep appliances, to alleviate symptoms and improve overall quality of life. By recognizing the symbiotic relationship between sleep and TMJ health, individuals can take proactive steps towards better health and well-being under the guidance of skilled professionals like Dr. Nojan.  Book Your Appointment Now with Dr. Nojan!