Can Orthodontics Help Sleep Issues?

Suffering from an orthodontic condition means more than misshapen teeth. Many Grubaugh Orthodontics patients have suffered from lockjaw (sometimes called TMJ). Even worse, patients with TMJ are often afflicted by sleep issues. Not getting enough sleep can wear down your physical and mental health. Poor sleep habits can interfere with your body’s ability to heal injuries and illnesses. A small problem, if untreated, can bring a snowball of consequences. But can orthodontics help sleep issues? 

Dr. Grubaugh‘s Lansing and Dewitt practices invite anyone with TMJ or sleep disturbances to seek treatment immediately. Continue reading to find out all you need to know. 

TMJ: An Unauthorized Biography 

When people say they have lockjaw, they may use the term “TMJ ” interchangeably. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. But the actual word for lockjaw is temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD or TMD). This joint connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the upper part of your skull. You may feel pain in this joint in your cheeks or around your ears. 

Your temporomandibular joint controls the movement of your lower jaw. The muscles around it help you talk and chew your food. The doctor may use words like “masticate” or “mastication.” Those terms refer to chewing. Pain in your TMJ makes speaking, eating, and swallowing difficult and uncomfortable. 

Signs and Symptoms 

Beyond jaw pain, temporomandibular joint dysfunction causes more complications. If you take no action, that pain can creep down your jaw and into your neck and shoulder. Whereas before, it hurt to chew, now it might hurt anytime you turn your head. Yikes! Who wants to put up with that? 

If you notice a clicking or popping sound when you move your jaw, that could indicate TMJD. And if all that isn’t bad enough, you may eventually develop earaches, headaches, and toothaches. Goodness! Now, your whole upper body is a giant throbbing ball of anguish! Ugh! 

Thankfully, Dr. Grubaugh’s Lansing and Dewitt teams can give you the relief you need. 

What Causes TMJD? 

Lockjaw can have a variety of causes and contributing factors. Do you grind your teeth when you’re stressed? Or maybe when you’re asleep? Teeth grinding (referred to by doctors as “bruxism”) places unnecessary stress on your lower jaw, which can lead to TMJD. Some of Dr. Grubaugh’s patients report jaw pain when they feel stressed. If that’s you, you might be grinding your teeth without even meaning to. Other causes might include arthritis or a bad bite (malocclusion). 

If you experience any of these symptoms, make an appointment with us as soon as possible! 

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Have you ever heard someone snoring? Or maybe you’ve even woken up because of your own snoring? Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing becomes irregular while they are asleep. Instead of a rhythmic ebb and flow, your breath moves in fits and starts. Breathing like this can prevent you from getting adequate rest. If you wake up tired, even after a total of 8 hours’ sleep, you could be experiencing sleep apnea. 

Why Does Sleep Apnea Happen? 

When you sleep, your entire body relaxes. Your neck, head, jaw, and tongue will release tension. If you’re a back sleeper, you likely sleep with your mouth open. Sleeping with an open mouth constricts your throat, making it harder for you to breathe. 

Sleep Apnea and Malocclusions 

Earlier, we talked about malocclusions. Think of malocclusions like bad bites – instances when the top and bottom parts of a jaw don’t line up the way they should. 

Some examples of malocclusions include: 

  • Crowded teeth: teeth are too close together, resulting in too little space
  • Open bite: the bottom and top rows of teeth do not overlap correctly 
  • Overbite: the top teeth reach too far beneath the bottom teeth
  • Underbite: when the mouth is closed, the lower jaw sets in front of the upper jaw
  • Crossbite: parts of the lower and upper teeth intersect

Your sleep apnea may worsen if you have a bad bite and don’t get it fixed. As we mentioned above, not getting enough sleep creates many other health issues. Fortunately, Grubaugh Orthodontics in Dewitt and Lansing can help you before those problems even begin! 

How Orthodontics Can Resolve TMJ and Sleep Apnea 

To maintain our well-being, we need quality sleep. Getting quality sleep requires effective breathing. And often, orthodontic techniques can improve breathing. So how might Dr. Grubaugh intervene for his patients? 

Damon System Braces

You may hear the doctor describe these braces as “self-ligating.” That means that each bracket has a piece that works like a door. It can open and close to hold the wires in place. For the patient, this means decreased friction and discomfort in the teeth. These braces are easy to install and maintain, so we won’t need to see you often for maintenance! 

Clear Braces

Just like the name suggests, these braces are transparent. For that reason, people might not even know you’re wearing braces. Unless, of course, you tell them! Clear braces are sometimes called ceramic. They are designed to be worn during your daily life. You can remove them for eating and drinking as needed. 

Insignia Custom Braces

Your mouth is unique. So why wouldn’t you want a treatment designed specifically for you? That’s why Dr. Grubaugh uses Insignia custom braces. This treatment option works quicker than others and works well for busy work and school schedules. 


You’ve likely heard of Invisalign. It’s a clear retainer that slides over the teeth. Similar to clear braces, they’re just about impossible for other people to notice. You’ll wear one retainer for a while, slowly moving your teeth into position. Then, Dr. Grubaugh will design another retainer to shift your teeth further into the right place. 

What Should You Do Now? 

You now understand the link between temporomandibular jaw dysfunction and sleep apnea. You’re also aware of how bad bites can mess with your sleep. The only thing you have left to do is schedule a visit to Grubaugh Orthodontics. Under our expert guidance, you can unleash your smile upon the world. 

Go here to schedule a free consultation. Hesitant about coming in person? Not a problem. Dr. Grubaugh is happy to talk with you virtually.