TMJ and Sleep Apnea: How They Overlap

Sleep conditions aren’t just about your airway. When Dr. Pribyl treats sleep apnea patients, he looks at the entire picture. One of the factors he takes into consideration is your jaws. The jaw supports the airway and its position while you sleep is crucial to your ability to breathe correctly. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea are four times more likely to develop a TMJ disorder. When the TMJ is dysfunctional, it can lead to a ripple effect of other problems throughout the body. By taking a comprehensive approach, Dr. Pribyl can treat TMJ, sleep apnea, and other symptoms in one consolidated treatment.


In our practice, we offer a gentle pain-free resolution in the reduction of snoring and the improvement of sleep quality. There is a non-invasive treatment performed by Dr. Pribyl called NIGHTLASE.

How it works: Using laser energy to heat the tissues of the airway, a tightening effect occurs which can help open one’s airway. With time, soft tissue within the back of the throat can lose its tone. NIGHTLASE can tighten those tissues and result in amazing effects.

We usually recommend three short treatments that take 15 to 30 minutes per session to complete within an 8 to 9 week period (approximately 21 days apart). This series is suggested to obtain the absolute best result. Anesthesia is not needed during this procedure.

Additional Information: NIGHTLASE is a safe and very successful treatment for reducing snoring and sleep apnea. It is a minimally invasive treatment with no need for special arrangements, either pre-or post-therapy. Since no anesthesia is needed, the treatment is well accepted by patients.

Patients often experience a feeling of warmth around the soft tissue area in the back of the throat. This feeling of heat is desirable because it means the laser is working to tighten and tone the palate tissue. There is no downtime needed after this procedure and normal activities may resume immediately after the procedure without any restrictions.

How To Treat Sleep Apnea

The most common treatment for patients who suffer from sleep apnea is to prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This involves wearing a large mask over your face while sleeping. The mask is connected to a hose connected to an air pump machine that consistently forces air into your mouth to hold your throat open throughout the night.

Although it is highly effective sleep apnea treatment, many find it too uncomfortable to wear. It’s also inconvenient to travel with, and highly embarrassing or disruptive in relationships. It may also cause skin irritation around the mouth. If a patient doesn’t find it comfortable to use, they will likely use it inconsistently which will not benefit their own health.

As an alternative to CPAP, we prescribe patients oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances look and fit similar to mouth guards and feel comfortable to wear every night. Many patients find success in using alternative treatments. Our appliances may even correct the underlying problem causing the sleep apnea or snoring, to begin with. Oral appliances are easy to use, comfortable to wear, convenient to travel with and work nearly as well.

We also offer appliances that correct the issues that cause your sleep apnea in the first place. For example, the DNA appliance helps hold your jaw in the correct position while you sleep while also encouraging your jaw to correct its growth to expand your airway. Over time, you may not need to wear the appliance at night because the underlying condition is corrected.

Lifestyle Changes

Oftentimes certain lifestyle choices can cause sleep apnea. For instance, being overweight can cause excessive weight on the throat which can obstruct the airway. Drinking alcohol can also disrupt your sleep and cause you to snore. Our sleep dentist in Lee’s Summit, MO may also recommend certain lifestyle changes to improve your condition such as the following.

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Exercise
  • Stop smoking
  • Sleep on your side
  • Stop taking sedative medications
  • Stop drinking alcohol
  • Try yoga
  • Use a Humidifier

If you’re unhappy with your current sleep apnea treatment or you need a comfortable and effective treatment, the Center for TMJ and Sleep Apnea is here to help by designing a better quality of life for you. Contact Lee’s Summit, MO. sleep dentist Dr. Larry Pribyl today to schedule a sleep apnea treatment consultation by calling (816) 795-1000.