Setting the Platinum Standard in Sleep Disorders Medicine.™
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More Questions and Answers About Sleep:

I have asthma, which was well controlled until I gained 20 pounds. Since the weight gain, I find myself waking up at night with asthma attacks and frequently reaching for my inhaler. My asthma used to occur primarily when I would exercise, so why am I now having attacks while I’m sleeping?

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Ask the Experts: Questions and Answers About Sleep

When I wake-up, my jaw hurts. My dentist diagnosed me with TMJ disorder saying I clench my teeth while I’m asleep. Why does that happen?


TMJ is more accurately known as Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction or TMD, which is caused by clenching or grinding teeth, and frequently occurs at night while asleep. A common cause that was recently discovered relates to breathing problems during sleep such as snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. My research demonstrates that clenching and grinding teeth while asleep is an attempt to bring the jaw and tongue forward. This helps prevent the back of the tongue from blocking the airway.
There are many people whose airways have a tendency to partially block during sleep, making it more difficult to breath. Clenching the jaw is the brain’s way of preventing this blocking from occurring. Dental splints may ease the pain by relieving pressure on the jaw joint and protect tooth enamel, but they don’t correct the breathing issues. I have successfully treated TMJ / TMD issues by treating breathing problems, (which are sometimes very subtle), during sleep.
See our bruxism page for a more comprehensive explanation of TMJ / TMD and sleep. My research has been presented at national medical conferences and I work with a large network of dentists across Houston to properly treat this problem.



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