Jaw exercises to help with TMJ pain from sleep apnea device

Jaw exercises to help with TMJ pain from sleep apnea device

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a highly prevalent sleep-related breathing disorder. The gold standard treatment is to use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

It is very effective in reducing symptoms but at times, patients may not adhere to full compliance of it and therefore, reduce the health benefits. Therefore, oral appliance therapies, usually prescribed by dentists and called mandibular advancement device (MAD), are used more and more to help with sleep apnea.

Oral appliance therapy has been demonstrated an effective alternative in treating obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, especially in the mild and moderate spectrum of the disorder. Many times, this is used in patients unwilling or unable to tolerate a CPAP machine.

Mild and ‘transient’ side effects are commonly reported in the initial period of oral appliance use. These complaints are sometimes dental (such as with the teeth and bite), but in most cases, can cause a temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

TMD is a collective term that embraces a number of clinical problems that involve the masticatory muscles, the temporomandibular joint and the associated structures. The treatment of TMD can be from oral appliances (such as a mouth guard), but in these situations associated with already use of an oral appliance for sleep apnea, manual and rehabilitation clinicians such as physical therapists are the best person to seek advice from.

Doff et al 2012 found the occurrence of (particularly pain-related) TMDs increases, being substantially higher (24%) in the oral appliance group than in the CPAP group (6%). Additionally, the authors found that oral appliance therapy results in significantly more pain during a 2-year follow-up compared with CPAP therapy.

In fact, the authors found a 2-fold increase in TMD in their study if patients used an oral appliance, but positively, the pain is most pronounced in the initial period of oral appliance treatment and tends to decrease afterwards.

Therefore, it is pertinent for persons to know a few exercises and have advice on how to improve how your jaw moves and works to get the full benefit of using your oral appliance! This is especially important right when you get the device versus waiting until it is too painful to use!

Considering the fact that obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is a disorder with serious cardiovascular consequences, it should be treated as effective as possible. Discontinuation of oral appliance therapy because of the development of TMDs should only be considered in patients who are able to tolerate or accept another effective treatment modality for their obstructive sleep apnea syndrome .

Jaw exercises to help with TMJ pain from sleep apnea device

Without a full clinical assessment of detailed history taking and physical examination, it is challenging to provide a tailored exercise program for you. However, here are 3 range of motion exercises that you can employ to see if it can help you.

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