Can I wear a sleep apnea mouth guard if I have had TMJ issues?

Man with mild jaw pain

The quick answer is YES!

The most common dental mouth guards that are used to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are also called mandibular advancement splints or sleep apnea oral appliances.

The area within dentistry that involves the selection, fabrication, and guidance of a sleep apnea device by a trained dentist is called Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT).

Can a TMJ patient wear a sleep apnea or snoring mouthguard?

The question of whether a previous symptomatic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) patient can consider an oral appliance is often asked not only by patients but of the medical and dental communities.

Unfortunately, some sleep physicians or inexperienced dental providers may persuade appropriate patients from seeking oral appliance therapy (OAT) due to a lack of full knowledge on the topic.

3 TMJ situations where a sleep apnea mouth guard can be worn

Here are 3 scenarios involving pain or symptoms that are often related to the TMJ joint or more accurately referred to as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction:

1. The patient had pain or TMJ related symptoms in the past but currently has no pain

  • Often patients in this category transition nicely into regular use of an oral sleep apnea appliance.

2. The patient currently has mild symptoms related to TMJ dysfunction

  • Often patients in this category move nicely into using an oral appliance and very often feel improvement after wearing a sleep apnea custom made mouthguard.

3. The patient currently has considerable pain or TMJ discomfort

  • It is best for this patient to be evaluated and treated by a general dentist or dentist specializing in temporomandibular joint dysfunction BEFORE being evaluated for an oral sleep apnea appliance.
  • After treatment and resolution of TMJ discomfort and symptoms, patients often transition nicely into oral appliance therapy with proper dental guidance during the home adjustment period using the oral appliance.

Not all people that suffer currently or have a history of TMJ pain or discomfort are good candidates for sleep apnea oral appliances. However, many are. The best place to start is to be evaluated by a sleep apnea trained dentist.

There are over 100 types of professional custom made oral appliances that are made to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

It is wise to work with a dentist knowledgeable in a variety of devices, as some devices are more suitable for patients who have had experience in TMJ or jaw discomfort.

If you feel you’d like to know if you are a good candidate for oral appliance therapy, a qualified dentist can help you find your path to a peaceful night of sleep with oral appliance therapy.

Are you ready for a peaceful night of sleep?

Do you need help to stop snoring? Tired of wearing your CPAP machine? Looking for a restful sleep?

If so, let me help you learn about which custom made dental devices may be your best option for sleeping and feeling better!

More information that may be helpful:

Oral Devices 101

Understanding how snoring can affect your sleep

How does Sleep Apnea affect your health

Where to find a qualified sleep medicine dentist

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Lydia Sosenko, D.D.S.

Lydia Sosenko, D.D.S.

Dr. Lydia Sosenko, author of MySleepDevice.com, is a general dentist and Diplomate of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Dr. Sosenko has worked closely with the dental and medical communities providing oral appliance therapy for snoring and apnea patients since 1996. She remains passionate in helping build awareness of the dangers of snoring and apnea and the importance of treatments, including oral appliance therapy.

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