Often jaw problems/ TMD can be part of a more complex problem and secondary to a greater problem affecting the body. In the absence of an acute injury to the head or face, the primary cause of jaw problems is frequently an unidentified sleep breathing issue like Sleep Apnoea.

Snoring is a sound produced when the air passes through relaxed tissue in the back of the throat. Sleep Apnoea is best described as intermittent breathing or stopping breathing during sleep; Apnoea is a Greek word meaning “without breath”. Sleep Apnoea is a disorder affecting hundreds of millions worldwide; those affected (adults and children alike) literally stop and start breathing all through the night. This is due to the soft tissue of the airway collapsing so severely that it totally blocks the airway and breathing ceases momentarily. This is termed an Apnoeic event. Apnoea does not allow proper restorative sleep that is essential for individual physical and mental health.


A common reason for this medical condition is poorly positioned jaws or tongue. What we eat and other environmental factors also influence Apnoea. We can have sensitivities to all sorts of different things. This can cause the soft tissues of our airways to swell and occlude the passage of air flowing through.

Dental Sleep Medicine involves the management of Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) using oral appliance therapy for adults, and orthopedic correction and development for children. This treatment is recognised by the medical community and provided by dentists trained in Dental Sleep Medicine.
The bad news is that most people don’t remember upon awakening that they had the episodes.

Symptoms Commonly Linked to Sleep Apnoea

  • Snoring /frequent night time awakenings
  • Waking up during the night to go to the bathroom
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Heartburn and GORD (gastro-oesophageal reflux disease)
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty focusing or paying attention
  • Awakening with a jolt, gasp or cough
  • Feeling tired despite a full night of sleep
  • Needing a nap in the day
  • Most people don’t notice any symptoms and have become accustomed to a chronic state of dysfunction as being “normal”.

Untreated Sleep Apnoea Can Contribute to :

  • Hypertension – High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Memory Dysfunction
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular conditions
  • Heart Attack and Stroke
  • Weight gain

In summary this is the sequence of events that occur when we stop breathing:

  1. The heart and lungs panic, sending a distress signal to the brain.
  2. The brain, in turn, floods the body with adrenalin and quickens the heartbeat.
  3. The chest heaves as its muscles try to force the body awake in order to restore airway muscle tone and allow air to pass to the lungs again.
  4. The body succeeds and for a moment the airway opens, the individual gasps to breathe, then promptly falls back asleep and repeats this sequence over and over again.
  5. This disturbed sleep does not allow proper restoration of brain and other organ function and prevents the body from eliminating toxic free radicals.

Imagine if this was happening during the years of your development:
Yes! Children suffer with TMD, airway and breathing disorders, and Sleep Apnoea.

These conditions have no age boundaries, the good news is when identified and treated in childhood they can be corrected. The earlier the treatment the better the result! For your child’s sake, be pro-active; have them evaluated on a regular basis starting at an early age.

Tonsils and adenoids are specialized tissues that are part of the lymphatic immune system. They respond to irritants by inflaming and restricting airways. This is most likely to happen during sleep when the soft tissue at the back of the throat is most relaxed. Some studies estimate the incidence of sleep disordered breathing in children as high as 10-12%.

This is what obstructive tonsils look like when a child says ahhh…

Studies show that some kids diagnosed with ADHD/ADD actually have attention problems in school because of disrupted sleep patterns that are caused by obstructive Sleep Aponea. Thus what they need is their sleep problem addressed, not stimulant medications like Adderall, Ritalin and anti-depressants.

Determining whether a child has Sleep Apnea

After a thorough clinical exam and review of the child’s past and current medical history. If we find that there is most likely a breathing disorder we prescribe a sleep test (PSG) to diagnose the sleep disordered breathing. There are two kinds of PSGs: an overnight test at a sleep center that involves monitoring brain waves, muscle tension, eye movement, gasping, snoring and tracking the respiration and oxygen levels in the blood. The other test is one that the patient can take at home which with new technology allows us to monitor over 12 different channels to give us more sleep quality data than has ever been possible for an at home monitor.

  • ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
  • ADD (Attention deficit disorder)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Bed wetting
  • Teeth Grinding

What to watch for in your child

  • Abnormal sleep position with their head either off the bed or propped up with pillows
  • Loud and frequent snoring
  • Stopping breathing during the night for 10-20 seconds followed by choking, gasping, waking up
  • Sweating heavily during sleep
  • Sleeping restlessly
  • Wetting the bed
  • Having difficulty waking up even though they have slept for a sufficient time
  • Having headaches during the day particularly in the morning
  • Becoming irritable, aggressive or cranky
  • Falling asleep or daydreaming at school or at home
  • Having school related or other behavioural problems
  • Having an Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity (ADHD)
  • Learning difficulties
  • Teeth grinding

Benefits of early evaluation and treatment of TMD & Breathing Disorders

  • Healthy and functional jaw joints
  • Improved sleep and daytime attentiveness
  • Improved airway for life
  • Reduced incidence of headaches, ear aches and speech impediments
  • Effective chewing and swallowing for nutrition
  • Improved cardiovascular system
  • Pleasing facial profiles
  • Confidence and improved self esteem
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