How Wearing a Face Mask Can Cause TMJ Problems

How Wearing a Face Mask Can Cause TMJ Problems

Face mask-wearing has become the norm these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC has recommended wearing face masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus through particles released in the air. In many areas, wearing a face mask is mandatory in public.

While dentists and surgeons have been used to wearing surgical masks as part of their job for years, it’s an entirely new concept for most of the general public. Many people have had to get used to wearing masks, or in many cases, are still getting used to it.

As we wear face coverings to protect us from coronavirus, some people have begun experiencing headaches and jaw pain associated with TMJ. We’re going to take a look at these pains as well as what you can do to relieve them while still wearing your mask to prevent infection.

Headaches from Wearing Face Masks

Face mask-wearing has led many people to change the way they breathe. This may mean holding their mouths open and taking shallow breaths. Holding your mouth open when wearing a mash can cause muscle imbalances in the neck and jaw. These types of imbalances can cause headaches.

When you’re wearing a face mask all the time, you may not be drinking as much water as you used to. This can leave you dehydrated. Dehydration can lead to headaches and fatigue. One easy way to eliminate this problem is to set a timer for yourself to drink water. This will help to keep you hydrated while giving you a quick mask break throughout the day.

Jaw Pain From Wearing Face Masks

You may not even realize it, but you may be pressing your lips together or clenching your teeth under your mask. When the jaw and facial muscles are in this contracted position for a long time, they can get overworked, just like any other muscle in your body. When this happens, lactic acid builds up and irritates nerve fibers, causing pain.

Other factors that can contribute to TMJ pain while face mask-wearing come from tugging down on your ears or wearing a face mask with tight bands. When you do this, you draw your ears down and forward toward your jaw. This creates compression on the disc of your jaw.

If you are experiencing jaw pain from wearing a mask, you may want to consider the type of mask you’re wearing. There are cloth masks, surgical masks, and N95 masks. N95 masks can give a tight fit and when you combine that with a tugging on your chin, it can lead to more compression of the jaw and jaw pain. If you find this happening, you may want to try out different types of masks that will still give you protection from COVID-19, but with more comfort for your face.

What Can You Do to Relieve Pain from Face Mask-Wearing?

Since face mask-wearing is not something you can ignore, you have to find ways to decrease pain while remaining safe. Here are some ideas:

1. Be aware of your jaw when wearing a face mask

When you have your mask on, try not to make your jaw tense or push it forward to keep your mask on. The elastics are on your mask are supposed to keep your mask in place. If you find this is not happening, it may be time to look for a better fitting mask. When you wear your mask, your jaw should be relaxed when it’s resting, your teeth shouldn’t be touching, and your lips should be lightly together. Keeping these things in mind should reduce jaw pain when wearing a face mask.

2. Be aware of ear loops and look for alternatives.

Earloops can pull and tug on your ears, leading to headaches and jaw pain. When your mask’s ear loops are constantly tugging, the trigeminal nerve is triggered. This can lead to pain and tension in your jaw.

If you feel this pain, you may want to try ear savers. These fit around your head, eliminated ear loops and the pulling they cause. If you’re crafty, you can try to make one yourself. If not, there are plenty that are already made and available online.

3. Be aware of your breathing pattern.

Face mask-wearing might prompt us to breathe through our mouths instead of our noses. When we breathe through our mouth, our jaw is held open slightly, leading to tension around the jaw. Try to still breathe through your nose when you’re wearing a face covering. When you breathe through your nose, it allows the jaw to stay in a better resting position.

4. Keep your neck muscles loose.

When you wear a mask, it can change your normal head position. This can hurt your neck muscles and lead to jaw aches. If you can try to keep your neck muscles loose, you can eliminate the strain and keep TMJ symptoms at bay.

5. Ensure masks fit properly.

Your mask should fit snug across the nose and not slip up toward the eyes. This will prevent you from clenching or protruding your jaw.  Ear savers can also help keep your mask in place and reduce tension on the jaw.

It’s important to find a face mask that fits properly and doesn’t cause unnecessary problems. In the end, proper face mask-wearing should not only protect you from the coronavirus but also be comfortable and not lead to TMJ pain.

Resources for TMJ Pain

The 3 Most Popular Mouth Devices for Sleep Apnea

The 3 Most Popular Mouth Devices for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects millions of people every year. Currently, around 25% of the American population is diagnosed with sleep apnea. It’s so popular that innovators have come up with a ton of ways to help. Using mouth devices for sleep apnea treatment is quickly growing in popularity. The symptoms associated with this sleep disorder cause unpleasant side-effects, and no one wants to go through life like that.   

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Sleep apnea can cause a variety of “scary” side-effects and diseases, but let’s look at the big two: snoring and fatigue. Mouth appliances are effective in getting rid of these popular side-effects. When they’re FDA regulated and designed with apnea in mind, they can help you feel 100% better. Different devices work for different people. Today we’re going to be covering the 3 most popular mouth devices for sleep apnea. After reading, you will be better equipped to decide which one is right for you.  


The CPAP is by far one of the most notorious when it comes to sleep apnea relief. When most people think of apnea, they connect the disorder to the CPAP machine. The CPAP operates with a simple concept in mind: to allow you to sleep better by blowing a steady stream of gentle air into your mouth and nose. The CPAP machine is pretty small and it plugs right into your wall. You use it by placing the mask over your nose and mouth and turning it on every single night before bed. When used correctly, it should prevent you from interrupted breathing.   

While the CPAP machine can be effective, it’s also inconvenient for some. Here are some common complaints:  

  • Stomach issues  
  • Congestion  
  • Nosebleeds 
  • Feeling claustrophobic or confined while sleeping  
  • Sores inside the lining of your mouth  
  • Reports have been made about chest pain while using  
  • It isn’t ideal for sensitive skin  
  • Irritation for your partner or pets  
  • It is unpleasant if you have a cold or sinusitis  
  • Requires regular cleaning   
  • It’s uncomfortable  

Some people don’t experience any of this. It can be very useful. It is not, however, the least-invasive form of treatment. The following mouth devices for sleep apnea treatment are quickly growing in popularity.

Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)  

Sleep apnea isn’t just caused by bad health. While it is often associated with diabetes and poor diet, other factors come into play. Sometimes it’s genetics. Sometimes it has to do with the alignment of your jaw or the size of your airway. Mouthguards will prevent snoring and help to open the airway. The Mandibular Advancement device is very similar to a mouthguard. The MAD kind of looks like the mouthguards that football players wear to protect their teeth.  

This particular device is pretty bulky. It is meant to snap onto the top and bottom of your teeth. It’s equipped with metal hinges that make your jaw move slightly forward while you sleep. This can open up your airway quite a bit.   

Tongue Retaining Device  

The tongue retaining device can be a little uncomfortable. It’s a “splint” that attaches to the tongue, forcing the airway open while you sleep. It may take a little getting used to, and it may initially cause some irritation. It is usually made from medical-grade materials, especially when purchased from a reliable source. (Remember: only buy mouth appliances that are FDA approved.)  

The retaining device looks a little bit like a tiny octopus. You slip it onto your tongue and the end of it balloons out past your lips. It may look a little silly, but it does the trick. Again, not exactly a “romantic” option, but it may be more comfortable for some people than a CPAP. This device has drawbacks, as well. If not attached properly, it will slip out of the mouth. This renders it ineffective. It can also be a little hard to swallow when wearing a tongue retaining device. This can make it tricky to get a good night’s sleep. On top of that, it collects spit and needs to be cleaned daily. Storage for this device is simple. You place it into a container when you’re finished using it. You do the same thing if you’re using a mandibular advancement device.   

Consistency is Key When Using Mouth Devices for Sleep Apnea

No matter what device you choose to go with, you have to be consistent. These devices work on a night-by-night basis, which means if you skip a night, you’re risking the side-effects of the disorder. Don’t stop using your device right away when you start feeling better. Continue to use it unless directed otherwise by a health care professional.   

Keep in mind that all mouth appliances need to be worn properly. The CPAP, for example, will not work if it is not clipped on just right. If you ever need help with fitting your CPAP on correctly, see your dentist or doctor. The same goes for all of these appliances. If your mouth device feels uncomfortable, you may be wearing it wrong. If you aren’t getting any symptom relief, you may just need to adjust how you’re using your appliances. This is manageable.   

You can buy these devices online. They’re popular. The problem with this is a lack of information and an improper fit. Getting someone to fit you for a device is the best way to stay comfortable at night. When you go to a professional for your device, you know that they’re doing what they can. They work to get rid of the symptoms of your unique sleep apnea. These devices aren’t always a “one-size-fits-all” deal. It’s important that you find something comfortable. After all, you’ll be sleeping with it every night!  

Stay consistent when keeping in touch with your health care provider/dentist. Keep him/her apprised of your progress (or lack thereof). Don’t hesitate to call if your appliance isn’t working or if it’s too uncomfortable to sleep with. Your dentist or doctor will know how to help 

If you have any questions or would like a consultation for mouth devices for sleep apnea, call Sleep Better Columbus at (614) 362-7292. 

Your CPAP Might be Affecting Your Teeth

Your CPAP Might be Affecting Your Teeth

Sleep apnea is a common condition in the United States. It can occur when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Here are a number of treatment options to discuss with your doctor. Two of the most widely used are continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and dental appliances, or mouth guards. However, as more people find they don’t respond well to CPAP therapy, they’re turning to CPAP Alternatives.

The Truth About CPAP Machines

The CPAP machine is widely prescribed in treatment of sleep apnea. However, it comes with some serious side effects. By far, an air leak is the most common complaint with CPAP use. If the mask doesn’t fit perfectly, air may escape around the edges as you change position while you are sleeping. Larger masks, such as those that cover the nose and mouth, are more prone to leaks. Leaks may compromise your therapy by reducing the pressure delivered, or they may be noisy and disturb your bed partner.

Your CPAP mask may leave marks on your skin if it doesn’t fit properly, possibly leading to sores or even ulcers, especially along the bridge of your nose. People with sensitive skin may also develop a rash or skin irritation, especially with masks that contain latex. Another common side effect is dryness of your nose or mouth often accompanies leakage. This may lead to nosebleeds or may even damage to your gums and teeth. If your mouth falls open, air can escape, leading to a parched mouth or tongue.

Though it is easy to breathe in, you may find it difficult to breathe out against the pressure when you first start using CPAP therapy. This may improve over time, but the effort may also cause insomnia. Due to the air pressure of the CPAP, you may end up with air in your stomach, causing you to belch all night long. This can lead to sleep disturbances and keeping a partner awake also.

Oral Issues from CPAP Machines

The machines can be cumbersome to take care of. CPAP machines require the use of distilled water to prevent desiccation of the oral tissues. For the wearer, the use of the distilled water can be tedious and requires special attention to cleaning and disinfecting the machine, tubing and mask. Quite often, after a while, the wearer just does not bother anymore.

A serious side effect is dental and skeletal changes associated with continuous CPAP are also known to occur. Any sustained force or pressure on teeth has the potential to cause tooth movement. As such, it is reasonable that flaring of the anterior teeth would occur because of delivering positive pressure posterior to the tongue that functions to position it forward in the oral cavity and against the anterior teeth. Any sustained force or pressure on teeth has the potential to cause tooth movement. As such, it is reasonable that flaring of the anterior teeth would occur because of delivering positive pressure posterior to the tongue that functions to position it forward in the oral cavity and against the anterior teeth. In other words, there have been reports of teeth movement due to the use of a CPAP machine. This can lead to serious biting and chewing problems.

Oral Devices as CPAP Alternatives

Oral appliances, fit by qualified dentists, are an effective treatment for many patients who can’t use or don’t want to use CPAP therapy and are seeking CPAP alternatives. They come in many different designs, but for the most part, they are usually custom made. The main purpose of the dental device is to keep the airway open during sleep, thereby preventing it from collapsing and blocking the normal flow of air during breathing.

Oral Device Types

  • Mandibular advancement device (MAD). The most widely used mouth device for sleep apnea, MADs closely resemble mouth guards used in sports. They snap over the upper and lower dental arches and have hinges to make it possible for the lower jaw to be gently shifted forward. Some of these devices, such as the Thornton Adjustable Positioner (TAP), provide the added benefit of allowing you to control the degree of advancement.
  • Tongue retaining device. Used less commonly than MAD, this device is a splint that holds the tongue in place to keep the airway open.

There are advantages to using an oral device. for people with mild to moderate sleep apnea, particularly those who sleep on their backs or stomachs. The dental devices may improve sleep and reduce the frequency and loudness of snoring. Also, because an oral device is easy to use and maintain, people are more likely to use these popular CPAP alternatives.

If you receive a dental device, you should have a checkup early on to see if it is working. In order to get the most relief from sleep apnea, it is important to have periodic checkups for possible adjustment or replacement. If you experience pain or changes in your bite, your dentist or orthodontist may be able to make modifications to correct the problem.

Also, dental devices have also been shown to control sleep apnea long term compared to uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), the standard surgical procedure for apnea, in which the surgeon removes soft tissue from the back of the throat. If you’d like to learn more about this safe and effective treatment option, reach out today.

Need help with sleep apnea and CPAP alternatives? Call Sleep Better Columbus todat to setup a consultation.

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