A quality pillow is an important component of a good night’s sleep, but there is no medical evidence indicating it can treat physical ailments like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), a fact the consumer watchdog nonprofit Truth in Advertising noted last month in regards to claims made by a popular pillow manufacturer.

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MyPillow and TMJ

MyPillow, which promises to be “the most comfortable pillow you’ll ever own,” is widely sold via infomercials, home-shopping networks and web-based outlets. Prior to late February, MyPillow’s website claimed that in addition to improving sleep, the product could alleviate the symptoms of conditions including TMJ, sleep apnea, insomnia and restless leg syndrome, among others.

As if to lend credence to their claims, and to take advantage of Americans’ desperation for restful sleep (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 30 percent of American adults  suffer from insufficient sleep), MyPillow also stated it was “the official pillow of the National Sleep Foundation,” an organization dedicated to sleep disorder research and education. In its initial MyPillow post, Truth in Advertising notes that designation was actually bestowed in 2014 and suggests MyPillow paid for the honor.

Pillows, TMJ and Sleep

TMJ — and the other conditions detailed by MyPillow — can certainly contribute to sleeplessness. And while a good pillow plays a role in healthy sleep if it properly supports your neck and head and suits your sleeping habits, it isn’t the answer for treating TMJ.

MyPillow attempted to skirt the truth with a tiny disclaimer at the bottom of its website, where it admitted that claims were based on “user experience and not on actual clinical studies,” and that “MyPillow is not a medical device.” Based on a letter from Truth in Advertising, in which it warned MyPillow that it would file a Federal Trade Commission complaint if the unsubstantiated claims were not halted, MyPillow dropped its assertions about TMJ and other health conditions (Truth in Advertising shared before-and-after comparisons of MyPillow’s website).

Assessing and Treating TMJ

Though there isn’t a pillow that will correct TMJ or eliminate TMJ symptoms. However, it’s important to consult with a dentist who has a background in TMJ diagnosis and treatment.

TMJ may be caused a number of factors, including the bite conditions known as malocclusions or an imbalanced jaw alignment. Likewise, TMJ treatment can range from orthotic devices designed to hold your bite and jaw in their natural positions to occasional therapy with TENS, a device that uses a mild electrical current to relax the jaw and allow it to settle into comfortable alignment.

If you live in the Denver area and you experience recurring headaches, persistent jaw pain or other signs of TMJ, please call the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado at (303) 691-0267 to schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable TMJ dentist you can trust.