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Is Your Sleep Apnea Causing Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)?

Author: zburt Posted: May 15th, 2019 Category:

Here’s how sleep apnea and nighttime teeth grinding are related — and how you can get possibly get some relief.

Do you wake up in the morning with sore jaw muscles and don’t know why? It could be because you grind, or clench your teeth during the night.  Though you may feel more tired throughout the day, you might not otherwise realize it’s happening because you are unconscious.

In some instances, the teeth rub against each other because the jaw or teeth are misaligned.  In some teeth grinding has been linked to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as well. A person suffering from OSA wakes up frequently during the night as their respiratory system shuts down intermittently and disturbs their breathing patterns. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that one in four people with sleep apnea also show signs of bruxism or grinding of their teeth.

It’s clear there is a connection between nighttime teeth grinding and sleep apnea. So how can you effectively manage these conditions in order to get a good night’s sleep?

The Link Between Grinding and Sleep Apnea

It is thought, when our air passages are blocked, the body sends out stress signals in response. These stress hormones travel through the bloodstream, ultimately forcing the jaw muscles to seize up. This tightening of the muscles causes friction between the upper and lower rows of teeth.

Bruxism may also occur when sleep apnea, snoring, or a partial obstruction (hypopnea) disrupts the upper respiratory airways. Again, the brain picks up on this stress and tells the jaw muscles to compress the soft tissues in the throat, thereby keeping the air flow running unimpeded.

How is Grinding Diagnosed and Treated?

Though you may be unaware that you’re grinding your teeth at night, your dentist can detect changes in your dental health that point to bruxism. During an examination, your dentist may notice the surfaces of your teeth are eroded or even cracked. You might also have loose or broken teeth not related to injury or trauma. Bruxism, if left untreated, may damage the periodontal tissues, cause headaches, and persistent jaw pain.

Treatment for bruxism depends on the underlying cause. If you grind your teeth, but don’t experience sleep apnea, a custom-designed oral device can protect your teeth from further harm while you sleep.

Is you suffer from both OSA and bruxism, you can be fitted with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. By applying air pressure through the mask, a CPAP device clears the respiratory passages so you breathe normally throughout the night. In addition to curing sleep apnea, using a CPAP machine dramatically reduces incidences of bruxism.  An alternative to the bulky CPAP machine is to use a jaw positioning device that sets the lower jaw in a position that allows the airway to be optimally open, and allow air to pass through easily.

Do You Grind Your Teeth?

Grinding and sleep apnea are serious medical conditions that lead to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, increased caffeine consumption, and anxiety. Apnea is also thought to be a risk factor for Hypertension and other possible systemic conditions.  If you suspect you may have bruxism combined with sleep apnea, your dentist may refer you to your primary care physician for further testing. An at-home sleep apnea test or an overnight sleep review at a clinic may help determine whether you have OSA.

The professionals at Espire Dental treat a variety of dental disorders, including bruxism, clenching, and grinding.  Your dental health is important to us, and we strive to give you the best possible care so you can enjoy a bright, healthy smile. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

Here’s how sleep apnea and nighttime teeth grinding are related — and how you can get relief.

Do you wake up in the morning with sore jaw muscles and don’t know why? It could be because you grind your teeth during the night, a condition known as bruxism. Though you may feel more tired throughout the day, you might not otherwise realize it’s happening.

In some instances, the teeth rub against each other because the jaw or teeth are misaligned. Yet bruxism has been linked to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as well. A person suffering from OSA wakes up frequently during the night as their respiratory system shuts down intermittently and disturbs their breathing patterns. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that one in four people with sleep apnea also show signs of bruxism.

It’s clear there is a connection between nighttime teeth grinding and sleep apnea. So how can you effectively manage these conditions in order to get a good night’s sleep?

The Link Between Bruxism and Sleep Apnea

When our air passages are blocked, the body sends out stress signals in response. These stress hormones travel through the bloodstream, ultimately forcing the jaw muscles to seize up. This tightening of the muscles causes friction between the upper and lower rows of teeth.

Bruxism may also occur when sleep apnea, snoring, or a partial obstruction (hypopnea) disrupts the upper respiratory airways. Again, the brain picks up on this stress and tells the jaw muscles to compress the soft tissues in the throat, thereby keeping the air flow running unimpeded.

How is Bruxism Diagnosed and Treated?

Though you may be unaware that you’re grinding your teeth at night, your dentist can detect changes in your dental health that point to bruxism. During an examination, your dentist may notice the surfaces of your teeth are eroded or even cracked. You might also have loose or broken teeth not related to injury or trauma. Bruxism, if left untreated, may damage the periodontal tissues, cause headaches, and persistent jaw pain.

Treatment for bruxism depends on the underlying cause. If you grind your teeth, but don’t experience sleep apnea, a custom-designed oral device can protect your teeth from further harm while you sleep.

Is you suffer from both OSA and bruxism, you can be fitted with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask. By applying air pressure through the mask, a CPAP device clears the respiratory passages so you breathe normally throughout the night. In addition to curing sleep apnea, using a CPAP machine dramatically reduces incidences of bruxism.

Do You Have Bruxism?

Bruxism and sleep apnea are serious medical conditions that lead to daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, increased caffeine consumption, and anxiety. If you suspect you may have bruxism combined with sleep apnea, your dentist may refer you to your primary care physician for further testing. An at-home sleep apnea test or an overnight sleep review at a clinic may help determine whether you have OSA.

The professionals at Levin Family Dental treat a variety of dental disorders, including bruxism. Your dental health is important to us, and we strive to give you the best possible care so you can enjoy a bright, healthy smile. Contact us today to set up an appointment.