Can TMJ Cause Breathing Problems?

Most people associate TMJ with jaw misalignment or swelling of the jaw joints. However, TMJ disorders commonly lead to more serious problems, such as migraines, radiating pain, and even difficulty breathing.

So what does the jaw joint have anything to do with breathing, and how is it responsible for breathing problems? Find the answers to your questions below, where we’ve laid out the basics of TMJ Disorder, and how to treat it!

What Is TMJ?

The TMJ, or the temporomandibular joint, is the jaw joint located on each side of your face (right in front of your ears), and is responsible for moving your jaw.

People who have problems with jaw alignment (and other symptoms, such as pain or swelling of the TMJ), are often diagnosed with TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder).

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

There is no one definitive cause of TMJ disorders, but most doctors agree that arthritis of the TMJ, teeth grinding or clenching, and strain of the TMJ (which could lead to dislocation) contribute to TMJ disorders.

How Can TMJ Affect Your Breathing?

The TMJ and jaw are connected to your airway, and are responsible for the positioning of your tongue. When your TM joints are not in the proper place, your tongue will also get shifted, and partially obstruct the airway. This can lead to feeling like you cannot get in enough air, especially when you are sleeping.

Because the jaw is so complexly connected to the structures in and around the lower half of the face, the proper alignment of your jaw is crucial to healthy breathing patterns.  If you start to feel TMJ pain, make an appointment with an Ears, Nose, and Throat specialist.

Treatments Available for TMJ Disorders

One of the most common treatment methods for TMJ disorders is an orthodontic splint, which is worn in the mouth and helps guide the jaw joints into their proper place. Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy exercises that will help to strengthen the TMJ and avoid grinding. For serious cases, an MRI or a TMJ arthroscopy will identify and repair a fracture or a specific area of cartilage degeneration.◾

Medically Reviewed by Roman Shulze, MD.

Are you surprised to learn that TMJ can cause breathing problems? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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About Kristin Minasian

Kristin is a content writer and medical reviewer for Healthpointe, where she creates pretty much anything – from press releases on new doctors to blog articles on the link between rock and roll and your health. When she is not punching keys at her computer, you can most certainly find her playing them at her piano! For more of Kristin, check out her articles on the Healthpointe blog.

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